UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Coming off an impressive 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on St. Patrick’s Day eve, the Boston Bruins carried that momentum into their first appearance at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum (now branded as NYCB Live) in four years.
The Bruins jumped on the Islanders early and controlled every aspect of the game. All four lines provided consistent offensive zone pressure and forced them into making numerous mistakes. The Bruins out-shot the Islanders by a 39-13 margin and, frankly, it felt even worse than that at times.
Sean Kuraly provided a pair of goals, while Patrice Bergeron, Noel Acciari and Jake DeBrusk all chipped in en route to the 5-0 victory.
“I thought that we played well for 60 minutes,” captain Zdeno Chara said postgame. “We made some strong plays, we capitalized on scoring chances when we had ones, and I think our special teams were also strong. Goaltending as well. So overall I thought it was a good game for us.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s thumping of the Islanders.
Kuraly’s line set the tone.
On a night of impressive feats, the new-look third line of Kuraly, Chris Wagner and Danton Heinen stood out the most.
The trio’s energy and assertiveness resulted in them getting quality chances while holding the Isles’ attack in check. They finished the night with three points — sparked by Kuraly’s pair of tallies — and a plus-seven rating.
“He has to be one of the lead sled dogs when it comes to playing north hockey,” Cassidy said about Kuraly. “Chris Wagner has been pretty good at that too. They’ve been a good pair. I think they both play the same way, they both want to get after it.”
It didn’t take them long to get after it. Kuraly gave the Bruins the early 1-0 lead just a minute into this one after firing a shot past Robin Lehner off a feed from Charlie McAvoy.
Sean Kuraly opens the scoring with his first goal since Jan. 17.
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/aWzS6PTqY3
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 19, 2019
Their dominance didn’t stop there. Kuraly capitalized once again from the high slot area in the second period, this time from Heinen.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 20, 2019
The third line pounced on their opportunities Tuesday night. That is a good sign as they slowly return to health with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season.
David Pastrnak returns
Replicating Pastrnak’s talent, energy and production isn’t easy by any means. Yet, the Bruins found a way to produce and climb up the Eastern Conference standings without their co-leading goal scorer.
Make no mistake, the Bruins are a better team with Pastrnak than they are without him, and they’re glad to have him back.
Pastrnak returned to the lineup Tuesday night after missing 16 games with a left-thumb injury. The first-time All-Star looked confident skating alongside his usual partners in crime in Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
He didn’t find the score sheet in his first game since Feb. 10, but Pastrnak found himself in the middle of everything. The top line combined for several textbook passing sequences that resulted in high quality scoring chances.
Pastrnak even broke out some dangles for the Long Island crowd.
Looks like David Pastrnak is getting used to playing with that splint on his hand. pic.twitter.com/i8eqaSFnoU
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 19, 2019
The 2014 first-round pick finished with three shots on net and played a total of 14:19, but his presence on the ice was the most important thing. The Bruins showcased confidence against a solid Islanders squad with their prolific Czech playmaker back in the lineup.
Fighting Chara still isn’t a good idea
Chara has been in the league for 23 seasons and teams still haven’t figured out that fighting him seldom works out. Matt Martin, the latest victim, learned the hard way when he challenged Boston’s captain in the second period.
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 20, 2019
His effort to galvanize the Islanders fell short and ended with him eating a dozen at least a half dozen punches before crashing to the ice. But the Isles veteran earned respect from the Bruins’ living legend.
“I respect him. He’s obviously been in the league for a long time and he’s tough as nails,” Chara said about Martin. “He’s doing his job for his team and great job by him. He takes his job very seriously and is one of those guys that I respect highly. It’s not an easy job.”
The 6-foot-9 captain had his way with Martin to start the second period. The Bruins had their way with the Islanders for a full 60 minutes.