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McAvoy, Defense Corps Pace Bruins on Long Island

Hometown boy (three points) leads strong effort from blue line in 4-0 win over Islanders

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Charlie McAvoy has been to Nassau Coliseum countless times in his 22 years, the native of Long Beach making the 25-minute trek north frequently as a youngster for his fill of National Hockey League action.

It's unlikely, however, that he ever enjoyed one of his journeys as much as Saturday's.

On the day that the Islanders announced they would return to Uniondale full-time late next month, McAvoy made his mark at the old barn, notching a goal and two assists to pace the Bruins to a 4-0 victory over the Isles.

"Just trying to play and be a part of it," said McAvoy, who extended his point streak to three games (goal, four assists). "Overall it was a great win. Nice to contribute one and score one here. Grew up coming here as a kid. That one's special."

McAvoy's stellar afternoon capped his best month of the season, as he broke through with four goals and nine assists in 14 games. The surge came after the blue liner went the first 51 contests of the year without a goal.

"The story was how well we defended tonight and took pride in our own zone and how well Tuukka [Rask] played to give us a chance to win that one," said McAvoy, who also blocked three shots in 21:30 of ice time. "I just try to play and play the right way. Not really looking for it, but tonight was a great opportunity…a couple of those were just great efforts by guys making plays."

Video: McAvoy talks to media after shutout win

Boston got plenty of great plays from the back end on Saturday afternoon, as the defense corps combined for two goals and seven points. In addition to McAvoy's three-point performance, Torey Krug chipped in two assists, while Brandon Carlo added a helper of his own and Matt Grzelcyk potted his third goal of the year.

"We've always had the green light," Krug said of the defense getting involved in the offensive attack. "As long as we're taking care of our net then [Bruce Cassidy] will give us the green light every single time. Time and score, appropriate timing.

"Third period if you have a lead, probably not. Charlie scores a goal late, but we just try to make the right reads at the appropriate time and try to contribute as much as we can."

According to Krug, the offensive boost from the back end was as much to do with the six-pack playing stout defensively. Boston limited the Islanders to just 25 shots - including just 12 over the first 40 minutes - as Rask picked up his fourth shutout of the season.

"Actually, it was the other end of the ice that we were trying to take care of," said Krug. "Ultimately, I think the effect of that is when you play solid defensively, you get more chances offensively, not only for us, but for the forwards.

"You get the puck in the right spot and you push it up to the forwards and then you're able to be a second wave of attack. I think we just all focused on our end of the ice first and we were lucky enough to contribute."

Video: McAvoy, Rask help Bruins shut out Islanders

It was the exact type of balanced effort from the back end that Cassidy tries to preach.

"I want them to be part of it," said Cassidy. "I think that's encouraging. Somedays, [Patrice Bergeron's] line, [the opponent is] gonna check them hard so the D's got to be involved. We certainly encourage [it], not at the cost of let's trade chances all night up and down the ice.

"But when there's an opportunity to get up there and keep it alive or join the rush, just pick your spots and I think they did a real good job with that tonight."

It all began on the game's opening goal, when Krug and Carlo combined for a swift breakout, quickly pushing the puck up to David Pastrnak in the neutral zone. Pastrnak eventually ended up blasting home his 47th goal of the season into an open net to put Boston up, 1-0, at 4:30 of the first.

Later in the period, Grzelcyk got in on the action when his wrist shot from the point pinballed off of former Bruins blue liner Johnny Boychuk and caromed past Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov to double Boston's lead with 6:50 to go in the opening frame.

"I thought early on we were transporting the puck well all through the neutral zone," said Cassidy. "I thought we took advantage of the ice that was available. Got in on the attack or in behind them and our D kept pucks alive. We're a pretty mobile group back there so we encourage that."

Video: BOS@NYI: Grzelcyk scores off defender's shin guard

McAvoy went on to pick up an assist on Brad Marchand's 27th of the season, which extended the Bruins advantage to 3-0 with 8:54 remaining in the third, before delivering the exclamation point just over five minutes later. With the B's on the power play, Krug rounded the net and fed McAvoy, who blasted home his fourth of the year from the top of the right circle.

"On that last one, it was a great play by Torey. Just tried to shoot it and lucky enough to see it go in," said McAvoy. "Torey made a great pass to me and allowed me to really step into that and kind of take all the thinking out of it and just shoot it.

"Might be the first time all year that we outnumbered [the forwards on the scoresheet], but that's what you need. Sometimes you win by committee and guys stepping up and making plays."

Video: BOS@NYI: McAvoy buries Krug's feed for PPG

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