It became obvious and apparent very early on that it was going to be a long night for Kevin Poulin.
After all, Boston Bruins' centerman Patrice Bergeron took the New York Islanders' goalie to task just nine seconds into the match, throwing the first of many, many shots on net - yet the fleet-of-foot Islanders kept pace with the heavy-footed, deliberate Bruins in a game that featured three very distinct changes in momentum...
|Chara shoots from the perimeter for the Bruins' final tally|
...the last switch coming with just seconds remaining in the middle frame, Carl Soderberg taking a stretch pass on the diagonal from Milan Lucic and sweeping in from the right wing to power the puck past Poulin, breaking a 3-3 tie for the eventual game winner as the Bruins steamrolled the Islanders in the final period to win going away 6-3.
Six different Bruins found twine and ten littered the score sheet, Brad Marchand picking up his third career four-point game, beating Poulin stick-side for the Bruins' second goal of the evening and helping on three others while Bergeron and Reilly Smith found the basket as all three second-line forwards potted pucks - Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Zdeno Chara joining in as well as the Bruins won their third straight and pick up their 69th point on the season.
Chara's goal represented his 500th NHL point and also chased Poulin, his night not as long as it may have seemed to him, replaced by Evengi Nabokov eight minutes into the final period.
Bergeron's early shot set the pace for the first twelve minutes of the game, Boston seizing the early momentum and putting 18 shots on the besieged Islanders' netminder compared to just two shots on goal for the home team, but thanks to Poulin's quick twitch only one found the back of the net, Loui Eriksson taking a sharp pass from Daniel Paille from across the trapezoid and snapping in the one-timer from the tough angle for the early lead.
But the momentum started to turn in favor of New York when Bruins' defenseman Johnny Boychuk was called for interference for making contact with an Islanders' player as he jumped over the wall and onto the ice - and although the much quicker Islanders failed to convert on the ensuing power play, the momentum gained on the man advantage carried over through the rest on the opening period it into the second...
...but not before they tied the game on a Frans Nielsen redirect of a Kyle Okposo feed that was stopped initially by Boston backup goalie Chad Johnson, but Nielsen was able to top shelf the rebound for a 1-1 tie going into the room.
The Islanders started the second period on the power play, the result of Chara retaliating on pesky winger Cal Clutterbuck's shove from behind that the refs didn't see at the end of the first, the 5'11' forward taking the 6' 8" defenseman's gloved fist to the mug then escaping down the tunnel while the refs restrained Chara, the temporary sting of the jab well worth the two-minute roughing minor that landed the big Czech in the bin.
Nothing came of the man advantage for New York, though they were clearly in control of the pace of the game - not even Marchand's goal five minutes into the period fazed the focused Islanders who responded in kind three and a half minutes later, right wing Michael Grabner beating Johnson stick-side from the high post with the equalizer...
...nor did Shawn Thornton's sweet 60 foot diagonal that Smith tapped in on the redirect for a Bruins' 3-2 advantage, as Grabner picked Dougie Hamilton clean at the blue line at the end of a penalty kill, Okposo sprinting out of the bin to join the break and scoring less than three minutes after that.
But just before the end of the period, the big Swede Soderberg took the perfect stretch pass from Lucic across the neutral zone and dragged the puck into the slot from the right wing and snapped home the goal that finally seemed to take the air out of the Islanders' relentless assault - a 30 minute time frame in which they dominated the Bruins with their speed and will - ending with Boston's heavies taking the momentum back in the final frame...
...Bergeron scoring two minutes into the third, snapping a Marchand pass from below the goal line into the slot past Poulin while getting leveled by Clutterbuck for the dagger, Chara following up with a nasty wrist shot from the perimeter a few moments later, chasing Poulin, who sat shell-shocked on the Islanders' bench for the remainder of the match.
Since returning from an eye-opening three-stop road trip to California where they got punked by the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings before finally standing up for themselves in San Jose against the Sharks, the Bruins are 5-1-1, including gaining revenge on the Kings in Boston as part of their current three game winning steak.
The stars could not be aligned any better for the Bruins going into the Olympic break, six of their seven remaining games before the break at TD Garden, the first of which is on Tuesday night against former Bruins' goalie Tom Thomas and his Florida Panthers.