UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- One team won the Stanley Cup last June. The other has failed to qualify for the postseason since 2007.
They were easy to distinguish Saturday night.
The Boston Bruins had their way with the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, scoring three times while holding the Isles to just two shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes en route to a one-sided, 6-0 victory.
Boston (11-7-0), winners of eight straight, chased Rick DiPietro after beating him 3 times on 13 shots in the first period. DiPietro was the Isles' starter by default after the club lost Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Al Montoya (hamstring) in a 48-hour span. DiPietro was replaced at the start of the second period by 21-year-old Anders Nilsson, who stopped 14 of 17 shots in his NHL debut.
"The only way we could get ourselves back in the race was to get on a bit of a streak here," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Somehow, we've got to keep it going because it doesn't matter how many games we've won so far. We're still hanging on to the last playoff spot and we've got to get ourselves in better position than that."
Tim Thomas (8-4-0) made 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and 28th of his career, although he barely broke a sweat. Thomas' team has outscored opponents 42-14 during this remarkable winning streak. The Bruins will look to make it nine in a row in front of a national TV audience Monday night at Montreal.
"It's hard to get shutouts … it just takes one mistake -- especially when you have a big lead in the third period," Thomas said. "The human tendency is to let up, and we did a good job of staying with it for most of the game. There was only a couple of really good chances."
The Islanders (5-9-3), meanwhile, have now lost 11 of their last 13 games and continue to be hindered by their lack of physicality as well as an inability to sustain pressure. That was clearly evident in the first period, when the Bruins had their way with them and rarely allowed New York in their zone. The schedule remains difficult for the Islanders, who have games against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New Jersey next week.
To make matters worse, the Isles have played 11 home games this season. They've already been blanked in their own building four times.
"When you play this game, you need to play with fire, you need to play with passion, you need to play with determination, you need to play with desperation," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "You need to have ice bags (on) after a game, maybe a little blood dripping. When you lace your skates, the guy on the left and right of you need to know you have their back. That just didn't happen tonight. I don't know why.
"Enough about staying positive and, 'We're going to get through this.' You have to work. Right now, collectively, we're not doing that."
Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead just 7:08 into the game when he finished off a 2-on-1 with Tyler Seguin. After Isles defenseman Steve Staios got caught pinching, Seguin blew past Nino Niederreiter and started an odd-man rush. Bergeron redirected Seguin's cross-ice feed past DiPietro for his fourth goal of the season.
Nathan Horton put Boston up by a pair with a power-play goal at 12:24. With Milan Jurcina in the box for holding, DiPietro tried to clear the puck from behind the net up the middle of the ice. But Horton intercepted it near the blue line and quickly fired a wrister past the Isles' goaltender for his sixth goal of the season as the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 lead.
"No excuse for that," DiPietro said of his gaffe. "I had stopped the puck. I had an open lane to clear that and I just have to get more wood on it. It kind of rolled up there, but at the end of the day, that's not a play I'd like to repeat too often."
Boston continued its domination and took a three-goal lead before the end of the period as Chris Kelly scored his first of two on the night with 1:15 remaining. With the teams at even strength, Travis Hamonic poked the puck right onto Kelly's stick, and the latter fired a slap shot from the left circle past DiPietro to make it 3-0. It was Kelly's sixth goal of the season. His team improved to 6-0 in games when he scores.
"I don't know if we had our way with them … they're men over there just like we are," Kelly said of the Islanders. "We try to be a physical team and a North-South team and we try to get in on the forecheck. We know when they score first, they're a good hockey team. We wanted to try to get that first goal and build off that."
The Islanders were outshot 13-2 in the opening period and left the ice to a chorus of boos. DiPietro was replaced at the start of the second by Nilsson, a 2009 third-round pick who won five of seven AHL appearances this season.
"They played a good game, but we allowed them to," said Isles captain Mark Streit, who was a minus-5 in just over 22 minutes of ice time. "We gave them all the room and time out there. They have good players. If you give them time and space, they're going to hurt you. We just didn't play the game we wanted to. It's disappointing and inexcusable."
New York had a decent chance to get on the scoreboard in the final minute of the second, when Michael Grabner grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and started a 2-on-1 the other way. The speedster snapped a wrist shot from the right circle, but Thomas swatted it away with his catching glove. It was one of 11 saves by Thomas in the middle period. He stood tall again midway through the third, when he calmly turned aside Matt Martin's wrister from the slot.
Andrew Ference sent a large chunk of Isles fans to the exits with 9:35 remaining in the third, when he took a pass from Joe Corvo and ripped a slap shot from the point past Nilsson to make it 4-0. It was Ference's first goal of the season. Kelly made it 5-0 with 7:06 to go when he took a nice feed from Milan Lucic and jammed it past Nilsson for his second goal of the night.
Former Isles defenseman Zdeno Chara rounded out the scoring with 1:45 remaining, when he took a cross-ice feed from Brad Marchand and wristed it past Nilsson to make it 6-0.
"The most important thing for us right now is we're getting wins and getting two points," Chara said. "That's what the focus is on. It's not about how many goals we score -- it's about getting the job done and winning games."