UNIONDALE, N.Y. – With the score tied after two periods, the Boston Bruins kicked their game into overdrive in the final 20 minutes.
It was a gear the New York Islanders are still looking for.
Brad Marchand scored the first of Boston's four goals in the final period as the Bruins rolled over the Islanders 6-3 on Saturday before a full house at Nassau Coliseum that included thousands of black and gold-clad fans who made the trip from Boston.
The Isles played the defending Stanley Cup champs evenly through two periods. But the third period was all Bruins – Boston outscored the Islanders 4-1, outshot them 13-6 and controlled play.
"Our guys did a great job in the third," coach Claude Julien said after his team moved closer to clinching the Northeast Division title. "I like the way our team responded well in respecting the danger of the offense that they have; we played a strong game defensively and when we had the chance we were able to capitalize."
The trio of Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron tore the Isles' defense to shreds in the third period, combining for three goals and eight points.
"Give them credit – they're the Stanley Cup champs for a reason," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "In the third period, they exposed some of our guys."
But it was still a 2-2 game early in the third until Marchand broke the tie at 3:13. Seguin carried the puck down the right wing and fed Marchand coming through the middle. He deked his way past defenseman Dylan Reese and faked goalie Al Montoya out of position before sliding the puck into a wide-open net for his 27th of the season.
Seguin made it 4-2 at 10:37, beating Montoya with a stoppable wrist shot from the top of the left circle for his 27th of the season. That proved to be the winner when PA Parenteau got his second of the game with 5:07 remaining in regulation. Bergeron swatted in a rebound with 3:41 remaining to restore Boston's two-goal lead, and David Krejci capped it by scoring his second goal of the game 24 seconds later.
The game ended with the swarms of Bruins fans in the sellout crowd of 16,250 at Nassau Coliseum chanting, "We want the Cup" and "Let's go, Bruins."
"That was pretty cool," Julien said. "We knew before the game we had plenty of support in the crowd. "
The win gives the Bruins 96 points and puts them within two of clinching the Northeast title – Ottawa prevented Boston from clinching with a 4-3 shootout win at Philadelphia. The Bruins clinched a playoff berth when Buffalo lost Friday night.
The loss officially eliminates the Islanders from playoff contention for a fifth straight season.
Marty Turco, starting in place of Tim Thomas, made 19 saves for his second win in three decisions since signing with Boston. Thomas is expected to play against the Rangers in New York on Sunday night.
Chris Kelly also scored for the Bruins, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games after a two-month bout of inconsistency.
"Everything. Our whole game has been better," Julien said when asked about the improvement in his team's play. "We had a lull where we didn't play with a lot of energy, and that made it hard for us to win hockey games. Our guys have been back on track now for a couple of weeks – they're focused more on what we want to do, and they're pushing each other. Because of that, we've found our game again."
Kyle Okposo scored the other goal for the islanders, whose three-game winning streak ended – as did any mathematical playoff hopes. Montoya stopped just 21 of 27 shots.
The Bruins nearly opened the scoring just more than two minutes into the game when Kelly snapped a shot from the high slot that beat Montoya cleanly but rang off the post.
Boston did get on the board at 18:11 when Milan Lucic's backhand pass found Krejci in the slot for a quick shot through a screen that zipped past Montoya for his 22nd of the season. The Isles tied it on the nest shift when Frans Nielsen stepped around former Islanders forward Brian Rolston and fed Okposo, whose 30-foot wrister from the high slot sizzled past Turco's glove.
The goal was Okposo's career-best 21st of the season and his sixth during a five-game goal-scoring streak.
The Bruins went back in front 4:58 into the second on a fine individual effort by Kelly. Montoya stopped Rolston's long slapper and Andrew MacDonald tried to clear the puck. But Kelly picked off his clearing attempt at the right point, raced unimpeded into the slot and whipped a wrister past Montoya's glove to become the sixth Bruin to reach the 20-goal mark this season.
Montoya kept his team from falling further behind when he robbed Bergeron after a giveaway with just more than eight minutes left in the period. That save became even bigger when Moulson chased down a loose puck and fed John Tavares in the slot. Tavares spun and found Parenteau wide-open at the right post for a slam dunk past Turco at 14:26 for his 17th goal of the season.
But poor puck management, a problem for the Islanders all season, bit the home team again.
"We made way too many turnovers against a good hockey team," Capuano said. "They converted every time we turned the puck over."
It was the first game back at the Coliseum for Rolston, who was dealt by the Islanders to Boston at the trade deadline and has produced offensively for the Bruins in a way he never did on Long Island. He was booed by the home fans whenever he touched the puck.
"It's always tough to come back and play in a building you used to play in," Rolston said with a smile when asked about his reception. "I know I didn't produce the way I should have here. There's a lot of different variables, but this organization was good to me."