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Islanders 4, Bruins 2

Bruins boxed in by penalty

Marchand’s mistake leads to Islanders’ comeback

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 12, 2011

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Late in last night’s second period, with the Bruins holding a 2-0 lead, Johnny Boychuk rimmed the puck deep into the offensive zone. Brad Marchand went straight for the left wall to track it down. But when the puck didn’t arrive, Marchand still stapled Josh Bailey into the boards and was appropriately whistled for interference.

As Marchand and the Bruins learned the hard way, ill-advised penalties often come back to bite.

On the following power play, with two ticks remaining in the second, Matt Moulson found the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game. In the third, still riding the positive energy of Moulson’s late goal, the Islanders poured three pucks into the Boston net to claim a 4-2 victory before 12,119 at Nassau Coliseum.

“That penalty in the second period kind of turned things around,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “They were playing well, but I don’t think we had given them too much until that point. Once they got that goal on the power play at the end of the penalty, it snowballed from there. I don’t think our team has played as well since we’ve come back from that trip out West where we had a really good trip. It just seems we’re a little out of synch. We’re not doing the little things well that we’ve been doing. We’ve got to find that part of our game again.’’

Just two weeks ago, the Bruins were in the thick of their Western Canada swing. They would emerge from their trip with a 6-0-0 record, looking like a team poised to start the playoffs. Their goaltenders were rolling. The No. 1 line was using skill and power to dominate opposing defensemen. The second line was delivering its usual consistent effort.

But now the Bruins are stuck in a four-game winless streak that’s left them puzzled about their quick spiral. The power play finally broke through last night after eight scoreless games, but the man-advantage is far from dependable. Twice last night, Julien went with a third power-play unit of Mark Recchi, Chris Kelly, and Michael Ryder, an indication of the staff’s desperation for some man-advantage life. Neither Tim Thomas nor Tuukka Rask have given the Bruins the ace goaltending they require. The third period, which the Bruins once owned, has become a dark 20-minute segment.

Last night, the Bruins had little life in the third. At 1:28, Michael Grabner stamped an exclamation point on a flurry of chances with a sharp-angle shot that beat Thomas for the tying goal. At 5:58, Jack Hillen’s slap shot from the left point bounced off Dennis Seidenberg, then caromed past Thomas for the winning goal. With 10 seconds remaining in regulation and Thomas off for an extra skater, P.A. Parenteau was credited with an empty-net goal when he was hauled down by Patrice Bergeron.

“I think the team that deserved it in the end won the game tonight,’’ Julien said.

Where the Islanders sent wave after wave of pressure on Thomas (38 saves), the Bruins could do little of the same on Al Montoya (26 saves). Most of their scoring chances were of the one-and-out variety. In the first period, during one of the rare multi-shot sequences, the Bruins scored their only even-strength goal. Montoya got a piece of Milan Lucic’s bid. But Nathan Horton, driving to the net, fought off a John Tavares backcheck and backhanded the rebound past Montoya at 16:29 to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

In the second, a five-on-three power-play goal by Zdeno Chara gave the Bruins a 2-0 edge.

But Marchand’s penalty, combined with some bad bounces, led to Moulson’s game-changing goal. From behind the goal line, Tavares sent a backhanded pass that glanced off the net and onto Moulson’s blade. Rich Peverley slid over to block Moulson’s shot, but the puck glanced off Peverley and deflected into the net. Had Peverley not gone for the block, Thomas would have stuffed Moulson’s bid.

The penalty altered the game not just for the team but for Marchand. Marchand sat on the bench for the entire third period to suffer the consequences of his infraction. In Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo, Marchand was called for a third-period tripping penalty that gave Buffalo a two-man advantage.

“Coach’s decision,’’ Julien said. “[Thursday] night, he put us down five-on-three. He knows better than that. We don’t want those kinds of habits to develop in his game, because he’s really been a good player for us this year. He’s playing a little frustrated right now and he’s been taking some really poor penalties. I didn’t feel he was going to help us in the third the way he was playing.’’

It’s time for the Bruins to find some answers to solve their funk. Next week, their road trip continues with games in Columbus, Nashville, and Toronto.

“There have been short time periods where we’ve taken a step back. I think we’re in one of those spots again,’’ Thomas said. “It’s time to turn it around. I thought that before the game, too. We didn’t do it tonight. I think it’s up to us to respond.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable, the level of play we’ve had the last few games.’’

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