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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bruins Start Crucial Homestand With Playoff-Like 2-1 Win Over Islanders

It's been a while since the Bruins could say that a 2-1 win vs. Islanders at TD Garden was quality and playoff-like but if you were at the game or watched it on TV tonight, that was most definitely the case. New York (33-18-1) is one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this year and there is a good chance that Boston (28-17-7) will see them this spring in the playoffs. Finishing 2-1 against them in the regular season series has to give the B's a little extra confidence if they meet again when it really matters.

After a great pregame ceremony featuring numerous Super Bowl champion Patriots, Boston quickly fell behind 1-0 at 9:06 of the first period. Superstar John Tavares scored his team-high 24th goal of the season on a rebound. The power play strike was assisted by Frans Nielsen (outstanding name) and Travis Hamonic. Before allowing that goal, the Bruins' penalty kill had been 18-for-18.

Boston answered fittingly enough with a power play goal on its first opportunity of the contest. Patrice Bergeron jumped on the loose puck in New York's slot and put it top shelf on former teammate Chad Johnson (34 saves). The unassisted goal was Bergeron's 14th of the season. Tuukka Rask (39 saves) was spectacular almost the entire way and he has looked like the Vezina trophy winner from last season this past month plus.

Things stayed deadlocked through the second period as New York controlled play (outshooting Boston 16-9). Loui Eriksson was the hero as he stepped up in the third period for the game-winning goal. He's not a big or physical guy by any means but he does a pretty good job getting to the net and in this instance, it worked to perfection. He was covered by an Islander but he still managed to backhand the shot under Johnson for his 12th goal of the season. His linemates Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly had the assists on one of Eriksson's biggest goals as a Bruin.

Montreal (33-15-3) comes to the Garden tomorrow night (7:30, NBCSN) for their final meeting with Boston this regular season. Considering that the Canadiens are the Bruins unquestioned main rival and they absolutely own them the last few seasons, it'd be nice to see the B's play well against the Habs for once. That way we all won't have heart attacks in Game 1 of the playoff series that you know will happen this year.

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