Hearing Rene Rancourt’s rendition of “O Canada” normally means a team from north of the border is in town, but on this night the sound of the Canadian anthem echoed through the Garden for a different reason—solidarity. It showed the Bruins—many of whom have direct ties to Ontario and Ottawa—and the city of Boston stand strong with our northern neighbors, and shows there are events that transcend sports and competition. This was a nice way for the organization to honor those affected by the unfortunate circumstances.
Now that being said there was a hockey game to be played, and it featured a pair of Bruins players who wore the black and gold last year, Chad Johnson, the starting Isles goalie and the recently traded, Johnny Boychuk. According to the Islanders broadcast team, who spoke with Johnny during the day, Boychuk said that today felt like a backwards day, watching his ex-teammates at the pregame skate, going to the visiting locker room, skating to the visitor’s bench, it just didn’t feel right. Well all of those feelings should have left Boychuk once Lucic—a good friend off the ice—sent him down to the ice in typical Lucic fashion.
In a shot-filled first period, which featured a combined 26 shots, two found the back of the net. The first from the Islanders Frans Nielsen, assisted by Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin, and one could say Dougie Hamilton’s skate. After a bit of scrambling by the Bruins in their own defensive zone, the puck found its way toward the front of the net, and thanks to a fortuitous bounce of Dougie’s skate, trickled into the net past Niklas Svedberg with the helping hand of Nielsen.
Midway through the first Chara skated down the tunnel with an undisclosed injury and did not return to the game, and we will wait to hear exactly what happened to the Bruins captain—hopefully it is nothing too serious.
As the period was winding down the Bruins top line evened the score at one with a typical Milan Lucic goal. After some nice passing between Krejci and Griffith, Griffith threw the puck toward the net where a crashing Lucic tipped it in past his former teammate and brought the sellout crowd to their feet. It is a good sign to see Looch crashing the net with purpose and even better to see him net his first of the year after he has been dishing out the helpers to this point in the season.
The Islanders dominated the middle period and it started quickly for them as Kyle Okposo tipped home his his third of the year from John Tavares and Brian Strait, and that Tavares/Okposo combination continues to produce nicely for the Islanders.
The Isles made it 3-1 halfway through the period after good quick puck movement and passing from Nick Leddy to Matt Martin who found Cal Clutterbuck to finish with a shot over the Bruins backup goaltender. This goal all followed a “Johnny Rocket” that rang the post and brought back some great memories to all Bruins fans watching the contest—especially with Kevan Miller out, Chara in the locker room and Matt Bartkowski looking lost on the ice at times.
The third began with opportunities for both teams, but perhaps the best chance came from Carl Soderberg who found himself with the puck on his backhand all alone in front of Chad Johnson, who extended the left pad calmly to keep the puck out of the net.
As the third pushed on and the Bruins were able to establish offensive zone time—and were fortunate that a Torey Krug back check was not called for slashing—the Bruins third line managed to get a second goal behind Johnson. Assisted by his Swedish line mates, Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly netted his second goal of the year, on the rebound of a bad angled Soderberg shot...and as the saying goes, it is never a bad play to put the puck on net.
The last few minutes of the game were dominated by the B's, and the furious, frenzied ending with Svedberg sitting on the bench resulted only in a hit post from Loui Eriksson.
All in all the Bruins played a solid first and third but were unable to put a complete game together and let the second period beat them.
The Bruins will be back in action again on Saturday up in Toronto.