The New York Islanders lost 4-0 to the NHL's top team, the Boston Bruins, on Saturday afternoon at NYCB Live. The shutout marked the fifth time the Islanders were blanked this season, but third in the month of February.
The Bruins scored twice in the first period on goals from the NHL's leading goal scorer David Pastrnak and Matt Grezelcyk and Boston sealed the victory with two third period goals from Brad Marchand and a power-play goal from Charlie McAvoy. Semyon Varlamov returned between the pipes for the Islanders and made 26 saves.
"To me, we lost the game in the first 10 minutes," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We fell down two pucks. Our detail, we lost coverage on those in both situations. They executed and I thought we put ourselves back in the second 10 minutes [of the first period]. The second period was fine. I think they actually generating, hanging in there and playing offense."
The Bruins struck first as a result of scuffle around the crease. Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron slid into Varlamov and took him off his line after Bergeron initially had collided with Andy Greene. Varlamov was unable to get his footing and slide over in time to try to deny Pastrnak, who gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead on the wide-open net at 4:30.
The goal gave the Bruins an immediate boost in momentum as they dominated the remainder of the period. The Isles were forced on their heels as Boston amplified the pressure and held an 11-3 shot advantage through the first 15 minutes.
The Isles weathered the push, but couldn't catch a break as Boston doubled their lead on an unlucky deflection. Grezelcyk's point shot redirected off of Johnny Boychuk and past Varlamov at 13:10.
With a 2-0 lead, the Bruins didn't take their foot off the pedal in the second period and held a 12-4 shot advantage in the middle frame. The play from both sides began to get chippy. Brock Nelson briefly left to the room after catching a puck to the face, but returned and finished the period.
The Isles went on the power play for the third and fourth time of the afternoon. The Isles third power play of the afternoon occurred from one of their best chances of the game, as Mathew Barzal drew a slashing penalty on Zdeno Chara on a breakaway.
The Isles also went on the penalty kill for the first and second time of the afternoon and spent 32 seconds killing a two-man advantage as Leo Komarov was first called for tripping at 8:20 and then Clutterbuck went to the box for high sticking. The Isles PK unit came up with a huge kill as they denied Boston's lethal power play that is ranked second in the league.
During a chippy third period, the Isles pushed back but Boston executed on their opportunities to shut the door. Marchand extended the Bruins lead 3-0 midway through the period, as the winger circled behind the cage and snuck a backhander past Varlamov to complete the wraparound.
The Isles received their fifth power play of the night after Pastrnak was called for roughing. Nearly a minute later, Barzal was called for hooking on Charlie McAvoy and both teams spent 54 seconds four-on-four. McAvoy ended up scoring a power-play goal from the right faceoff circle to up Boston's lead to the 4-0 scoreline.
The Isles lost the battle of special teams to the Bruins. The Isles second period five-on-three kill gave the Isles a huge boost, but their power play ultimately went 0-for-6. The penalty kill finished the game 2-for-3.
"Power play can change the game," Anders Lee said. "Just like how our penalty kill gave us an opportunity on that five-on-three. We had some huge blocks by our guys and followed it up with some decent efforts on the power play and some power plays that we had absolutely nothing."
Cal Clutterbuck drew back into the lineup for the first time since Dec. 19. The winger was sidelined after suffering a wrist laceration against Boston during the teams' first meeting of the season.
After undergoing surgery and completing a two-game conditioning stint in Bridgeport, the Isles Identity Line was two-thirds restored as Clutterbuck made his return (Casey Cizikas is still on injured reserve, retroactive Feb. 11, with a leg laceration).
"We need more of that in our game," Trotz said. "We got a little bit light with the group that we had. We lost a little bit of our identity. Today, we had [Martin] and [Clutterbuck]…When [Martin] and [Clutterbuck] were out there, they were pretty effective."
Clutterbuck played 10:08 alongside Matt Martin and Leo Komarov.
GREENE DRAWS BACK INTO THE LINEUP:
The newest Isles defenseman returned to the lineup after missing one game with an upper-body injury that he had sustained against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The defenseman played 18:19 and had three blocks.
VARLAMOV BACK IN NET:
Varlamov returned between the pipes and made his 37th start of the season after Thursday's starting nod at St. Louis went to Thomas Greiss. Prior to facing the Blues, Varlamov had strung together six-straight starts from Feb. 15-25.
The Islanders host Montreal at Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.