Bruins falter in OT
Islanders boosted by quick strike
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The Bruins didn’t do all of the right things last night, but they did most of them, which in the end was like being the guy with nearly all the Megabucks numbers - all except, you know, the winning number that is the difference between a free ticket to the next game or a life living at the edge of a seaside Caribbean hideaway.
With only 24 seconds gone in overtime, and Boston defenders Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman caught somewhere between the neutral zone and never-never land, Frans Nielsen raced off for a breakaway and beat Tim Thomas with a backhander for a 3-2 win over the Bruins in front of 13,744 at Nassau Coliseum. Blake Comeau made the key pass out of the Islander end, his quick dish sending Nielsen burning by Ference just after Marc Savard and Michael Ryder failed to connect on a scoring attempt at the other end of the ice.
“Andy caught an edge . . . the ice was sticky all night,’’ explained Wideman. “Otherwise, he would have had [Nielsen]. Really, if not for that it would have been a 2 on 2, but . . .’’
But, for all their effort, the Bruins left with only one point instead of two, their overall work still exemplary of late (8-1-2 in their last 11 games). They played a very good road game, outshooting their hosts, 32-19, including a lopsided 17-3 edge over the final 20 minutes of regulation. However, former UMass-Lowell star Dwayne Roloson had every answer in the Islander net in the third period, all part of a night in which he turned some very good chances into routine saves.
“I thought [Roloson] was the difference tonight,’’ said Boston coach Claude Julien, who saw his club take a brief lead, 2-1, in the second period. “From our end of it, you know, it’s hard to criticize my team when it shows that kind of effort.’’
The Islanders broke on the board first, thanks in large part to the Bruins getting charged with a too-many-men-on the ice penalty with 3:31 gone in the first.
Only 27 seconds into the power play, Rob Schremp raced to the right post and poked the puck behind Thomas after a Kyle Okposo shot from the mid-slot deflected on net. With Zdeno Chara, Derek Morris, and Matt Moulson all involved in a top-of-the-crease fender-bender, Schremp darted in and nudged in his first goal as an Islander.
The Bruins were back to tie with 5:37 remaining in the first, Ryder ripping home a wrister to the top right corner after collecting a nifty backhand dish from David Krejci. The strike came less that two minutes after the Bruins killed off a Wideman roughing penalty. Ference, with only two assists all season, picked up a helper.
Boston appeared to have its first lead of the night, 2-1, when Marco Sturm batted in a turnback of Ference’s short-range wrister with 1:41 remaining in the first. But after a brief video review, the ruling on the ice was confirmed - no goal. Sturm had his stick too high when he provided his lacrosse-like backhanded swat.
The Bruins grabbed the 2-1 lead at 9:26 of the second and this time the goal counted. Krejci provided the forehand mash at the right post after Ryder slid a clean backhand feed across the crease. Vladimir Sobotka started the play, carrying over at left wing on an Islander turnover in the neutral zone.
“I tried to be ready for whatever happened, if he made his shot or passed to me,’’ said Krejci, now with two goals and 5 points over the last three games. “He just made an unbelievable play.’’
With 5:18 to go in the second, just over a minute after not allowing the Bruins a shot on a power play, the Islanders knotted it, 2-2, when Moulson popped in a doorstep backhander. Sensational rookie John Tavares made the key feed, sending in a backhander from the rear dasher after Okposo shuttled a puck over from the left corner.
The Bruins were caught trying to press it in the overtime, but the quick-thinking Comeau disrupted the Savard-Ryder attempt, and in a flash connected on the breakout feed with the fleet-footed Nielsen. Ference chased from behind, but couldn’t make up the two steps.
“It looked like he was going to lose it off his stick,’’ said Thomas, left alone to defend what looked like a shootout attempt, only at warp speed. “He made a real nice [backhand] shot, and I think part of it was that he almost lost it . . . but he ended up closer than I thought he’d get and scored on the backhander. Nice shot.’’