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Friday, January 30, 2015

Bruins Kick Off 2nd Half With Impressive Road Win, 5-2 Over Islanders

After what felt like about a month off (for the NHL All-Star break), the Bruins were finally back in action tonight on Long Island. Boston (26-16-7) dropped the Islanders (32-15-1) 5-2 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to improve to 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. In fact, the B's have earned points in 12 of their last 13 contests. Tonight's win evened the season series at one and the only way that Boston will ever see that dump again is if they meet in the playoffs. Boston hosts New York next Saturday at TD Garden, the finale of the three-game season series.

Boston certainly didn't start like a team that hadn't played a game in over a week as they got out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period. Reilly Smith scored his 10th goal of the season at 13:59, a tip-in on a beautiful pass by Milan Lucic. David Krejci had the second assist on that one. 2:10 later, Patrice Bergeron scored a power play goal when New York gave him way too much time and space. Boston's lone All-Star knew what to do, snapping a low shot past Jaroslav Halak (28 saves). Dougie Hamilton and Smith assisted on Bergeron's 12th goal of the season.

The Islanders showed why they have been the top team in the Eastern Conference as they dominated zone time in the second period and were rewarded with not one but two goals to tie it up. Superstar John Tavares cut it to 2-1 at 8:25 after dumping the puck in on Tuukka Rask (season-high 43 saves including a save of the year nominee with the paddle of his stick), the rebound came right to him and he was able to slide it in for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. Goon Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic got the assists but honestly, they didn't do anything. New York made it 2-2 at 15:12 when Johnny Boychuk's blast was deflected by Michael Grabner in front of Rask. Tavares had the other assist on Grabner's fifth goal of the season.

Earlier in the season, if they blew a two-goal lead like that, the Bruins would have been toast. This showed the progress that they have made as they stayed calm and benefitted from a fluky goal of their own with less than four seconds left in the second period. Halak cleared the puck right to Kevan Miller at the blueline and he alertly threw it on net, ending in his second goal of the season.

Boston would not relinquish another two-goal advantage as Torey Krug scored right away, 1:45 into the third for his 10th goal of the season (4-2 Bruins). Smith and Lucic had the assists on Krug's shot through traffic that deflected off an Islander. The Isles outshot the B's 14-6 in the final frame but it didn't matter since Lucic clinched it with an empty-netter at 17:54 from Krejci and Zdeno Chara. Would you believe that it was Lucic's 10th goal of the season as well?

The B's take on the struggling Kings (21-15-12) on Saturday night (7, NESN) at the Garden. It should be another highly-entertaining, playoff-like game.

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