BOSTON - The Bruins hit the ice at TD Garden on Monday afternoon with the hopes of continuing a strong stretch that began during last week's lengthy road trip. Boston entered the matinee against the Islanders with 19 goals over their last five games - during which they were 3-1-1 - and appeared to be turning the corner offensively.
But consistency has not been the Bruins' forte this season.
The Black & Gold could not carry over any of that momentum they had built up in recent days, fallling, 4-0, to the Islanders at TD Garden.
"You'd like to build on it. You hope your team would build on that kind of stuff. So it is disappointing that you're not able to build on that stuff," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I think we owe it to our fans to be better than we were. Whether there's fatigue in our team or not, I don't know. You think your team is ready to go. I think that we felt we were ready to go, but we were flat. We'll leave it at that."
The Bruins did not believe they took the game lightly, despite the Islanders entering the game in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders, after all, defeated the Bruins, 4-2, at TD Garden just before Christmas.
"Claude mentioned that before the game - last game we played here they got us and it was a bit of a flat game again last time," said Tuukka Rask, who was replaced by Zane McIntyre to start the third period. "We didn't want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going."
The Bruins kept things scoreless deep into the second period, but a five-minute stretch late in the middle frame quickly turned a close contest into an insurmountable deficit, with the Islanders cashing in for three goals.
"The game was pretty even until that [five] minutes," said David Backes. "I don't know if we wanted to hit simulate on the old video game today because we figured we had more points than them and it was going to come or what.
"But the result is certainly not what we're looking for when we just established ourselves back to .500 at home and wanted to make this a tough place for anyone to come into. We just didn't bring it tonight and it's unacceptable on all of our parts."
Nikolay Kulemin kicked things off for New York, taking a Casey Cizikas pass from the behind the net and firing one past Tuukka Rask at 13:18 of the second. The Islanders doubled their lead 1:42 later when Josh Bailey sneaked a bad angle shot by Rask, before Kulemin notched his second of the game with just 1:22 to go in the period.
"I think the first period was a great example of how the whole game went. We had more shots, but nothing really happening," said Rask. "They only had [three] shots and nothing for them either, but then the second they got that first goal and gained a bit of momentum and then a kind of a weak one by me in the second goal, and then that was it."
A shorthanded goal by Jason Chimera with eight minutes remaining closed the books on the dispiriting loss and left the Bruins, once again, searching for answers about how to solve their issues with consistency.
"It's just on us in this room to bring it and to have that pride every night that it matters," said Backes. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, the same two points are on the line and you can't play a different game if it's the Islanders or the next game in Detroit, or whoever the heck is after that.
"It's just got to be a consistent effort, play our game…I think we've disappointed with our effort…the result is a lot of disappointment when we leave the rink."
Odds and Ends
Joe Morrow returned to the lineup with defensemen Kevan Miller and Colin Miller sidelined with injuries. Morrow blocked two shots, delivered two hits, and landed one shot on net during 16 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time. He was a minus-1….The shutout was the Islanders first ever in Boston. Their three previous shutouts against the Bruins came in New York…The Bruins fell to 5-1-0 in afternoon games this season...Riley Nash fired a game-high five shots on goal, while Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand each landed four shots.
Video: NYI@BOS: Krug delivers a big hit on Gionta
Sending His Support
Julien and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have had a strong relationship during their time they have both coached in Boston. Julien and Belichick took a spin around the ice together at Gillette Stadium during last year's Winter Classic and Belichick took part in a video montage congratulating Julien on becoming the Bruins' all-time leader in wins late last season.
The two stay in close contact during the season and Julien made sure to reach out to Belichick before the Patriots' 34-16 win over the Houston Texans Saturday night in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
"That's part of what we do as coaches here, when we get into those situations," Julein said before Monday's game. "It's not a secret. We text fairly regularly during the season. Again, I was happy to see him win him win that game. A big win for them, especially after being off for two weeks.
"It's not easy. What's easy is to criticize and say they didn't play well, but I think his team responded well in the second half and no doubt they'll be better next game. Looking forward to it."