Bruins 3, Islanders 1

Island oasis for Bruins

Email|Print| Text size + By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 4, 2007

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Part of the idea behind the week in July that Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask spent in Calgary, working under the watch of goaltending coach Bob Essensa and business partner Eli Wilson, was to hone the technique that might be needed during the 2007-08 season.

In last night's third period, the Calgary camp paid off for Thomas.

After a scramble in the Boston zone, the puck found its way to the stick of Islanders forward Josef Vasicek, who had a one-on-one staredown with Thomas in front of the net.

Vasicek shifted from right to left, looking for an opening and waiting for Thomas to make the first move. Thomas didn't blink, keeping his glove out and his stick down in the proper butterfly style, closing off any hole Vasicek might have spotted.

"Maybe in the past, you might have seen more of a diving save," Thomas said. "This time, I was able to stay with it."

Thomas's stop helped the Bruins claim a 3-1 win over the Islanders before 11,040 at Nassau Coliseum. It was their first victory on Long Island since Dec. 22, 2001, a strong rebound win after a disappointing 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay Saturday.

The Bruins were without Andrew Ference (sprained left knee) for the eighth straight game, and they were also missing Aaron Ward, who sprained his right ankle against the Lightning over the weekend. Ward is doubtful for tomorrow's game against New Jersey, although coach Claude Julien didn't think it was a long-term injury.

Matt Hunwick, a healthy scratch for the last two games, skated with Bobby Allen and Zdeno Chara during even-strength situations.

But even without two of their top four defensemen, the Bruins stood tall in their zone, giving Thomas - whose save on Vasicek came with the Bruins ahead, 2-0 - good looks at the New York attempts.

"We talked before the game about how good teams don't lose two in a row," said Thomas, who lost his shutout when defenseman Chris Campoli blasted a power-play slapper into the net with 1:51 remaining. "So far, we've bounced back and been able to have a strong effort the night after a loss."

The Islanders put heavy pressure on Thomas (33 saves), who made his third straight start, in the third period, pouring 14 shots on the Boston net. But the Bruins blocked nine others during the third period, filling lanes smartly.

In the final minute, with goalie Rick DiPietro (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker, Marc Savard lost a defensive-zone draw. The puck found its way to Miroslav Satan at the point. The sharpshooter reached back and unleashed a whistler on Thomas, but Chara smothered Satan's fast-moving shot.

Earlier in the period, while Glen Metropolit was serving a hooking penalty, Mark Stuart and Jeremy Reich came up with big-time blocks to keep the Islanders off the scoreboard.

"We had some key blocks at some key times," said Julien. "That's what it's all about. You've got to be able to do those things. Those are the little things that make a big difference in the game."

In the first period, Savard extended his scoring streak to 10 games, the longest active string in the league, when he assisted on Glen Murray's power-play goal at 13:03. Savard, the league leader in helpers (26), has 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) during the streak.

The Bruins doubled their lead in the second period when Petteri Nokelainen scored. Andy Sutton, trying to make a clearing pass, whiffed on his attempt, giving Nokelainen a breakaway on DiPietro. Nokelainen, a former Islander, took advantage of Sutton's flub, roofing a shot over DiPietro at 18:04. For Nokelainen, acquired from New York Sept. 11 for forward Ben Walter, it was his second career goal and first as a Bruin.

"He lost the puck and I got a little bit lucky," Nokelainen said. "I was pretty close so I just tried to get it up. Worked well."

Chuck Kobasew added a power-play strike in the third period to give Boston a three-goal advantage before Campoli got New York on the board.

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