BOSTON -- The New York Islanders' late-season push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs has included several impressive wins against top-quality opponents.
You can add their latest victory to that list.
The second of Josh Bailey's two goals broke a second-period tie, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 30 shots as the Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 Thursday night, handing the Bruins their third regulation home loss at TD Garden this season.
"Every win is big at this point in the season. We needed to get one here," Bailey said. "It's been a little while. I thought we played a great game from start to finish, and obviously had some great goaltending."
Tuukka Rask stopped 34 shots for the Bruins, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights. After a fast start and a 16-9 shots edge in the first period, Boston's game fizzled and it managed 13 shots the rest of the night.
"I thought our first period was our best first period in a long time," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And the rest of the game, although they were the better team for most of it, I could see our guys were trying, we just ran out of gas. Third game in four nights, the effort, the will was there, and they did a great job. They were obviously a little fresher than we were and they did a great job of closing in on us and not giving us much. And even when we did penetrate the offensive zone there in the third, we didn't spend much time there. It was in, and it was out."
The Bruins lost in regulation at home for the first time since March 3. Boston had been 8-0-1 in its past nine home games.
The Islanders are 8-1-1 in their past 10 overall and remained in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the New York Rangers, who come to the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night.
"They're believing in one another, they're believing in the system, and they're playing hard," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "At this time of year, I think teams that work extremely hard and win their battles -- elevate their battle level and win their battles -- have a good chance to win the game, and that's what we're doing."
Bailey, who has at least one point in five of his past six games, nearly had a hat trick. Rask's blocker save with 5:37 remaining in the third period stopped Bailey's wide-open shot at the end of a 2-on-1.
"I'm just taking it one game at a time. It's cliché, but I'm fortunate to play with the guys that I play with, [Frans Nielsen] and Kyle [Okposo], make it pretty easy and make you look good out there," Bailey said. "They're a pleasure to play with, and the whole team seems to be playing the right style of hockey, and the style we need to play to win right now. It's been a big group effort that's lasted a while."
Rask faced 19 shots to the Bruins' eight on Nabokov in the second period, and the Boston netminder made several excellent saves.
However, Bailey beat Rask for his second goal of the game at 13:12 after a steal from Adam McQuaid in the neutral zone. Bailey's wrist shot from the left dot trickled under Rask's arm and over the goal line to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
The Bruins, playing without center Patrice Bergeron and wing Brad Marchand because of concussion issues, continued to juggle lines, a task Julien has been forced to do several times in the past month because of injuries and ineffectiveness.
Boston came out strong and nearly scored on its best chance of the first half of the first period. Seguin danced round Keith Aucoin at the New York blue line, circled the net and set up Chris Kelly in front. Nabokov made the initial stop then denied Jordan Caron's attempt to jam the puck with 9:36 elapsed.
New York failed on the lone power play of the period but scored a late goal at even strength. Mark Streit led the rush and fed the puck back to Bailey at the blue line. The Islanders forward slapped a rocket through a Casey Cizikas screen and into the top corner with 21 seconds remaining for a 1-0 lead.
By outplaying the Bruins on Boston's home ice, the Islanders showed they can win in one of the League's most hostile environments and that they were able to not look ahead to Saturday's showdown with the Rangers.
"We have 24 periods of hockey left before the game [vs. Boston]. Every shift is a Game 7-type shift for us," Capuano said. "We just have to continue to work, and work, and not worry about -- we're not looking ahead to anything."
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