As far as New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz is concerned, the first three games of the second-round series with the Boston Bruins have had almost everything: Plenty of feistiness and two games decided in overtime between a pair of evenly matched squads refusing to yield even an inch of ice in front of roaring arenas evoking memories of pre-pandemic times.
All that’s missing for Trotz and the Islanders is another win or two.
The Islanders will look to bounce back from Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss and try to even the series when they host the Bruins in Game 4 on Saturday night in Uniondale, N.Y.
Brad Marchand scored 3:36 into overtime to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It was the second straight overtime game between the teams, who have been separated by more than one goal for just 17 minutes and 23 seconds of the 198 minutes and 24 seconds they’ve played thus far.
“If I wasn’t coaching, I’d be glued to the TV every night because this is a helluva series right now,” Trotz said Friday afternoon. “It’s a physical, determined series by both teams.
“So I’m excited. Saturday night crowd in the (Nassau) Coliseum. Boston Bruins-New York Islanders. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
For a little while Thursday night, it appeared things would in fact get better for the Islanders, who were outshot 39-24 in regulation — including 23-5 over a 20-minute span bridging the second and third periods — but began tilting the ice after Mathew Barzal scored with 5:26 left in regulation.
The Isles outshot the Bruins 5-2 the rest of the way but squandered chances to take the lead when Tuukka Rask cradled a breakaway attempt by Anthony Beauvillier with 3:15 left, and again when they generated one shot on a power play in the final 2:15.
“In the past there’s been some bounces going both ways — kind of a goalie’s nightmare, so to speak,” said Rask, who gave up the overtime goal in Game 2 on Casey Cizikas’ breakaway.
The nightmare was experienced on the other side of the ice Thursday. The Bruins won in quirky fashion when Marchand, who had just leaped over the boards during a shift change, took a pass from Long Island native Charlie McAvoy and fired an angled shot from just outside the faceoff circle to the left of the New York net. The puck fluttered beyond defenseman Ryan Pulock and over the far shoulder of Semyon Varlamov.
“Obviously not a great one, but any puck, especially in overtime, has a chance to go in,” Marchand said. “That’s always something I think every team talks about going into overtime is you can’t pass up a shot. And that’s another example of it.”
Varlamov stopped 39 straight shots before Marchand’s game-winner.
“It was kind of a weird shot, but the puck found the net,” Varlamov said.
Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo missed the final 17-plus minutes Thursday after his head hit the boards following a check by the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck. Carlo, who has been diagnosed with four concussions in the NHL and missed more than a month this year after being boarded by the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson, struggled to get to his feet and skated very slowly off the ice. Head coach Bruce Cassidy said Friday Carlo is day-to-day.
–Field Level Media