The New York Islanders play like a Lou Lamoriello team. For much of Thursday, the Boston Bruins followed suit.
After all the hits, scoring chances, goals and general chaos in the first two games of the East Division Finals in Boston, the Bruins and Islanders each seemed to be channeling the old New Jersey Devils into Game 3. , who under New York general manager Lamoriello won three Stanley Cups by eliminating space and suffocating opponents.
And then the Bruins took over.
Third in the NHL this season in shots per game, the Bruins had just six shots on target in 30 minutes Thursday before dominating the second half of the game and taking a 2-1 lead in the series with a 2-1 win.
Bright to keep his team in the game, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov appeared to lose his angle slightly at the near post as Brad Marchand scored over his shoulder from a sharp angle at 3:36 into overtime.
In the second half of regulation time, Boston dominated New York 33-11, but it was the Islanders who forced overtime when Mathew Barzal wedged a puck between the post and the skate of Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask near the end of the third period.
“Did we expect him to come from there?” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Only Brad can answer that question, but obviously you don’t, especially with all the (Varlamov) saves being tight. Maybe there was a little screen, maybe he was a little late to pick it up. I don’t care, to be honest with you. It went into the net, we won the match. You don’t ask how sometimes.
“We didn’t really steal it, in my opinion. I thought we played a really, really solid road game.
Marchand, who skated the puck down the left wing to give his teammates a change, said he probably didn’t expect his shot to beat Varlamov.
But “any shot, especially in overtime, has a chance to get in.”
A VICTORY AND A LOSS
Already absent from veteran defenseman Kevan Miller due to injury, the Bruins lost Brandon Carlo, one of the top four blue defenders, six minutes into the start of the third period when he hit his head against the glass on a hard but legal blow from islander Cal Clutterbuck.
Clearly pissed off, Carlo knelt down on the ice trying to regain his balance before skating with help. It’s hard to imagine him playing Game 4 on Saturday. If he’s out there will be even more blame on Charlie McAvoy, whose Thursday ice time of 29:11 was almost seven minutes longer than any teammate and nearly five minutes longer than n ‘ any registered Islander.
A head injury to Carlo is of particular concern, as the 24-year-old physique missed 11 games in March due to a concussion sustained on a high blow by Washington Capitals predator Tom Wilson, who was suspended for seven. matches for his headshot.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz made an important move in an attempt to counter the line of Marchand superstars Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who combined five of the Bruins’ eight goals in the first two games of the series.
Trotz moved his third line, centered by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, against Bergeron’s unit after the Islanders used Brock Nelson’s line in a power-on-power clash in two games. For the most part, the tactical change worked as Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak were limited to seven even-matched shots in Game 3. Pageau, Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri were on the ice for the Islanders when Marchand scored in overtime, but there was nothing the forwards couldn’t do to save their keeper from himself on this game.
IS IT MAT BARZAL?
Goalless in the Islanders’ first eight playoff games and with just four assists for the season’s most important hockey, Barzal’s performance on Thursday could represent a breakthrough for the struggling offensive star.
Although he returned the puck to the Boston blue line before the Bruins’ opening goal, Barzal played with more confidence and candor, attempting six shots and ultimately scoring his first of the playoffs at 14:34 of the third period when he got three chances. to block a puck that bounced off him on the ground boards after poor communication between Rask and Boston defenseman Connor Clifton.
The Islanders have a great, deep team. But Barzal is the only New York player whose skills could allow him to make a difference on the scale of Pastrnak, Bergeron or Marchand.
Taylor Hall was once again a key support player for the Bruins, failing back to steal the puck from Barzal in the first period, returning it to the ice and ultimately passing to Craig Smith on Boston’s opening goal.
A serial disappointment in the playoffs, Hall was traded to the Bruins by the Buffalo Sabers on the deadline for the reduced price of a second-round pick. The Islanders were also interested in renting Hall, but instead added New Jersey character forwards Zajac and Palmieri for a set of assets that included a first-round pick.
“He’s a special kid, a special player,” Smith said of Hall on Thursday. “He has exceptional speed and an exceptional spirit for the game. He was one of the best players there.
Cassidy: “I thought it was a great goalie game by their guy and our guy. And that’s why you get 1-1 in overtime. This is what we expect from the playoffs. I was asked that the other day; what surprised me a bit is the number of goals from two very good defensive teams. It’s more what I thought it would be.