UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Bruins left Boston for a season-high five-game road trip. They’ll return home with four victories, maybe a slight sun tan, and a rediscovered offense.
Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum pushed the Bruins win streak to four games, gave them their third straight game with at least four goals, and was built on two tangibles they’re relying on: great goaltending from Tuukka Rask, and offensive production from their top lines.
There remain some serious power-play issues, and the Islanders might have generated a few more breakaways and odd-man rushes than the Bruins would like to see, but Rask took care of those mistakes, and Boston’s biggest threats on offense responded to the challenge, with Brad Marchand scoring his 10th goal and David Krejci his fifth.
The victory also improved Boston’s record away from home to a stout 8-1-1. So far, there’s no place for the Bruins like the road.
“I thought we played a good road game. Obviously we’ll take the 2 points,” said Patrice Bergeron, who had two assists and was on the ice for three of the Bruins’ four goals. “It’s important. We’re there for a reason, and need to do the job in their zone, and were fortunate enough to get the bounces tonight.”
The only period the Islanders had outscored their opposition this season coming into the game was the second, but that was when the Bruins grabbed control. It started immediately, and came emphatically. Bergeron and Marchand were also on the ice when the Islanders’ fourth line scored late in the first period to tie the game at 1.
Slightly embarrassed, they atoned for the bad goal with one of their own. Marchand got the credit for his tiebreaking goal 38 seconds into the second period, but Bergeron really made the play, outmuscling Lubomir Visnovsky in a race to the puck, then flipping it back to Andrew Ference, who sent it on net. The puck ended up at Marchand’s feet, then on his stick, an easy bury that put the Bruins up for good.
“I think there was a little bit of a burr there and they made sure they got that goal back,” coach Claude Julien said. “It was nice to see them react that way, shows the character they have.”
Said Marchand: “We haven’t scored a whole lot of goals in the games we’ve played, but as long as we get them at the right time, then it doesn’t matter who gets them.”
The Bruins doubled their lead nearly five minutes later on a pretty goal from Krejci. Nathan Horton powered in from the right side, then rifled a pass to Milan Lucic, who quickly shoveled it Krejci’s way. He one-timed it high past Evgeni Nabokov at 5:16.
The Bruins had six of the first seven shots in the second period, a surge that gave them a lead that Rask made feel comfortable, especially in the last five minutes, when the Bruins twice put the league’s fifth-best power-play unit on the man advantage. But the NHL’s top penalty-killing team was up to the task every time.
Rask earned his 10th win of the season and finished with 36 saves.
“Pretty entertaining game to watch,” Rask said. “I feel comfortable. I’ve felt pretty good so far.”
Both goalies turned away strong scoring chances from the outset, with Nabokov thwarting Marchand on an early redirect from Tyler Seguin, followed later in the first period by Rask stoning Michael Grabner, who skated in on a breakaway, chased by Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton.
Grabner’s first opportunity — Rask got him again in the second period on another breakaway — came minutes after the Bruins took a 1-0 lead at 6:43 of the first on a goal by Adam McQuaid, his first of the season. McQuaid took a pass from Seguin and beat Nabokov with a hard slapper that zipped under the goalie’s glove. It was Seguin’s 100th career point in the NHL. He would add another assist on Gregory Campbell’s empty-net goal at 18:55 of the third.
The Bruins carried the early first-period play for the most part, with Nabokov keeping it scoreless, then at 1-0, with strong saves. His mates tied the game at 1 when Josh Bailey sped in from the right side toward Rask, waited until Seidenberg dropped to the ice, then flipped a centering pass to Casey Cizikas, who beat Bergeron down the ice and had position. He took Bailey’s pass and went high on Rask to draw the Islanders even.
But the Bruins dominated the middle period, and with Rask sharp, they did enough in the third to prevent an Islander comeback. A win in Winnipeg, two in Florida, and now one in Long Island send the Bruins home fairly rested (they’ve still played an NHL-low 16 games) and confident.
“We’ve talked about consistency. Not every night is great, but every night has to be good enough to win, and we’ve been that so far,” Julien said. “We’ve gotten either solid goaltending or timely scoring or great defensive plays, and all that stuff gives us the stability that a good team needs.”