BOSTON, MA – If the playoffs would have begun today, the Bruins and the Islanders would have been a first round matchup, with the B’s sitting in second and New York in seventh in the East respectively.
The Islanders took notice, and treated their opponent and the contest like it was playoff hockey, stealing a crucial two points in a difficult TD Garden in a 2-1 win.
“They came hard; no question that they put us on our heels,” said Isles’ Head Coach Jack Capuano in the postgame of the Bruins effort. “Every shift is a game 7-type shift for us.
“We just have to continue to work, and work, and not worry about—we’re not looking ahead to anything.”
Josh Bailey, who scored both goals for New York, lamented his coach’s sentiments, and how important it was to put forth an effort against a Boston team they could soon be seeing again.
“It’s a crucial point in the season, and a great team over there,” Bailey said. “You never know what happens come postseason.”
“Could be a potential matchup I guess, so it’s good to get the win.”
While the Islanders are looking up at the Bruins in the standings, Boston was not expecting an easy game, nor was the potential of a postseason matchup not on their minds.
“They’re playing really well, especially lately,” said Zdeno Chara. “When you look at their record, I think they do play with confidence even though they’re a young group. I think that every opponent is going to be challenging in the playoffs.
“You’re playing best of seven, so whatever you end up playing it’s going to be a battle.”
For a Bruins team that took 31 shots, there were plenty of opportunities to find an equalizer, but Evgeni Nabakov stood tall for the Isles.
“We had enough chances to win the hockey game,” said Jaromir Jagr. “I thought we played pretty good against them.
“I thought we played a pretty good cycling game. And we had a lot of chances to win the hockey game. It just didn’t happen tonight.”
For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask was his usual self, turning back 34 Islanders shots and earning the game’s second star. But in a battle between two teams vying for conference positioning, New York was able to find the extra tally.
“Tuukka [Rask] played well he made some great saves out there,” said Capuano. “So it’s a good game for us and we found a way to win and that’s a even better feeling.”
If the teams do meet in the postseason, the Bruins will have taken the season series 2-1, but the Islanders would have captured the last matchup. But the Bruins captain said the team is aware of its position with its most important hockey on the horizon.
“I think we are in a good spot, we just need to get better in certain areas of our game and make sure that we get everything that we need going into the playoffs,” Chara said.