Everything seems to be coming in bunches for the Bruins.
The goals. And now, it seems, the victories.
After scoring five goals over a three-game losing streak, the Bruins halted that skid by extending their winning streak to three consecutive games with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Islanders Monday night before a TD Garden crowd of 17,565.
The Bruins made a winner of goaltender Tuukka Rask (24 saves) for the first time this season after tallying a pair of first-period goals 29 seconds apart by Nathan Horton on the power play at 13:38 and Tyler Seguin at 14:07 to take a 3-1 lead. It prompted Islanders coach Jack Capuano to pull starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and go with Al Montoya after Nabokov allowed three goals on four shots.
While Rask entered with a 3-1-0 career record vs. the Islanders, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was firm in his decision to give his reserve goaltender some ice time after starter Tim Thomas backstopped the B’s to a 7-0 road victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night.
“It basically was something we had thought of [doing] no matter what,” Julien said. “When you look at Timmy, with a shutout the game before, it would have been easy to go back with Timmy, but we’re sticking with kind of our plan right now. He’s the guy that, as you mentioned, played well against them, but it was also his time to step in tonight.”
After Rask allowed the Islanders to pull within 3-2 on Michael Grabner’s gotal at 18:36 of the first period, Boston came back from a scoreless second period and struck for another pair of back-to-back goals — this time just 49 seconds apart — in the third period on tallies by Milan Lucic at 4:34 and Horton at 5:23.
“We’ve always emphasized how important that shift following the goal for or against is,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team (6-7-0) inched one win closer to reaching the .500 mark for the first time since winning their first game of the season Oct. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, 4-1, to go to 1-1.
“Our guys have been good about responding wheny they go back, and they get off to a real good shift,” Julien said. “In Toronto [in a 7-0 romp over the Maple Leafs Saturday night], same thing — scored a couple of quick goals. Tonight, same thing. It’s just paying attention to the little details and what every part of the game means to your hockey club, and our guys are responding to that right now.”
The Bruins, who have outscored their last three opponents by the combined goal total of 18-5, had 11 players score points vs. the Islanders, including four for multiple points: Zdeno Chara (2 assists), David Krejci (1 goal, 2 assists), Lucic (1 goal, 1 assist) and Horton (2 goals, 1 assist).
“We’ve addressed a lot of the problems and the mistakes that we were making and a lot of it came from our neutral zone play and our defensive zone play and in just our effort and our puck pursuit to get it back and make good decisions with it,” Lucic said. “I think that’s ultimately what’s helped us get the 18 goals in the last three games. We’re starting to find that level of play that we want to play at and it wasn’t easy to get to this point.
“We had to work really hard to get out of that funk,” Lucic added. “And we’re going to have to work even harder to keep it going.”
Although they started off the game minus-2, the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line proved unstoppable after they finished plus-1, combining for 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists).
“They’re finding each other again,” Julien said. “They’re making strong plays in the offensive zone, and they’re getting results. In the first period, unfortunate bounces, turnovers, and they were on the ice for both goals against, but I think overall you’re starting to see the three of them finding their game, individually and collectively.”
Other Bruins highlights:
• Benoit Pouliot, who had missed the last three games, tallied his first goal of the season to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 1:32. Jordan Caron was credited with the assist, his first of the season as well.
“It was nice to see,” Julien said of Pouliot’s goal. “And he was in the right place. He was right there, put on the breaks, and banged it in …Like I said, he’s a guy [who’s] working hard, he’s trying to find his way on this hockey club, trying to adapt. His work ethic and compete level is there so, again, we’ve just got to keep working with him and see how far we can go.”
• Rask on his first win of the season: “Yeah, the sooner the better, right? I wasn’t too frustrated but when you feel like you’re playing OK and then just losing, it’s tough on your confidence a little bit. But we battled through it and it’s good to get that win.”
• Horton, who had scored just one point (on an assist) in his five previous games, recorded his first multiple-goal night of the season. “The tough times are not easy, but tonight I felt better,” Horton said. “It makes you feel better getting points and feeling good out there. I still want to work on my game and keep getting better and do anything I can to help my team.”
• Scariest moment of the night came when Daniel Paille, who made two blocks, stopped a slapshot by Steve Staios at 3:09 of the third period with his face. Paille immediately went down in a heap, clutching his face as blood pooled on the ice near the Bruins bench. Paille was helped off the ice and retreated to the dressing room where he was treated. Julien said Paille was to be examined by specialists after the game.
“Yeah, a litle scary moment,” Lucic said. “Just looking at what happened there, the puck kind of jumped on Staios there and it’s one of those times where it’s good he had a face shield on. It was good to see him – you know, we saw him here before he went for an X-ray there and it was good to see him walking around after that.”
Asked if it caught Paille on the eye, Lucic said, “No, it hit him right on [the nose]. It looks kind of like mine now.”
• Islanders coach Jack Capuano on his decision to pull Evgeni Nabokov after he gave up three goals on four shots: “We just needed to get something going. We didn’t give him much help there.”
• Tyler Seguin, who scored his first career hat trick in Saturday’s 7-0 romp at Toronto, extended his point streak to four games with 5-1–6 totals in that stretch … The Bruins were perfect on the power play (1-for-1) and on the penalty kill (4-for-4) … Chris Kelly played in his 500th NHL game, logging 13:06 of ice time.