By Kerry Gwydir
Goaltender Garth Snow was solid throughout while Alexei Zhitnik's powerplay goal early in the third turned out to be the winner in a 2-1 victory in Boston on Friday night. The two teams faceoff for a return exhibition matchup Saturday in Manchester, NH.
Snow started the game by carrying over the steady form from Wednesday night's loss in Trenton against Philadelphia. Five minutes into the contest, the Bruins took the play to the Islanders and generated several quality scoring opportunities. A pair of chances off the stick of Brad Boyes came off a turnover behind the Islanders' net. Snow reacted quickly to repel Boyes' one-timer from the high-slot and then padded himself across to deny the rebound try.
Twice in the first period the Bruins looked to establish the physical play. Each time, Eric Godard was on the ice to stick up for a teammate. The first time occurred midway through the opener when Blake Comeau knocked over the Bruins' Eric Healey with a clean hit at the Bruins' bench. Healey took a punch at the Islander rookie, who was met by Godard and the rest of the forwards on the ice soon after.
With five minutes left in the same stanza, Boston's Milan Jurcina ran-over Sean Bergenheim with a heavy but clean hit at the Islander blueline. Immediately, Godard stepped in and challenged Jurcina to a bout. However, in that instance, Godard earned the instigator penalty. Just seconds into that Boston powerplay, Mattias Weinhandl was sent off for high-sticking, thus giving the hosts an extended 5-on-3 powerplay. Several more key stops by Snow, including one on a pointblank drive by PJ Axelsson, extinguished the Boston man-advantage and set up the first goal of the game.
Sean Bergenheim tallied his first of the preseason with 2:49 left in the period as he slid a wrister from the right faceoff dot through Mark Parrish's screen inside the far post. 2005 first round pick Ryan O'Marra notched the lone helper.
But the Bruins answered just over a minute later when Healey was left unchecked in the slot by the Islanders' defense to tuck a backhander past Snow. Eric Nicklus initiated the play by finding Healey cutting to the front of the Islander cage.
Both teams mounted little sustained offensive pressure in the second period, although each team traded close calls in the final minute of the stanza. Boston defenseman Jay Leach hit the post from the right point as Snow was screened on the play. Less than a minute later, Mark Parrish bolted behind the Bruins' defense off a chip by Oleg Kvasha into the neutral zone. Bruins' goaltender Andrew Raycroft stretched out his right pad to deny the chance.
With Zdenek Blatney in the penalty box, the Isles took the lead at the 4:38 mark of the third when Alexei Zhitnik ripped a slapper from the right point over Tim Thomas' shoulder. It was Zhitnik's third of the preseason with Joel Bouchard and Miroslav Satan getting the assists.
Snow made another dandy stop eight minutes into the final period off a 2-on-1 rebound opportunity. Again, it was Axelsson with the chance on the doorstep with Snow having to react quickly following a save off Joe Thornton to slide across the crease to block the shot away with his left pad.
NOTES: Former Islander center Dave Scatchard, who signed with the Bruins in the offseason, did not play and is sidelined with a groin injury...
The Isles' first powerplay unit consisted of Robert Nilsson-Alexei Yashin-Miroslav Satan with Alexei Zhitnik and Joel Bouchard on the points. Later, when the Islanders had a 5-on-3, Satan moved back to the point to replace Bouchard with Mark Parrish positioned on the right wing. The second powerplay unit during the 5-on-3 consisted of Justin Papineau-Oleg Kvasha-Mattias Weinhandl with Janne Niinimaa-Chris Campoli on the points...
Nilsson drew a hooking penalty seven minutes into the game off a 3-on-2 rush during an Islander powerplay as he dipped his way around Ben Walter and had a potentially clear path to the Bruins' net...
Rookie blueliner Ryan Caldwell saw first unit penalty killing time along with Niinimaa in the first period, but saw less ice time as the game progressed...
Tim Thomas replaced Andrew Raycroft in the Boston pipes in the third period.
The Islanders lost the shootout 2-1.
(21) Robert Nilsson-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(37) Mark Parrish-(12) Oleg Kvasha-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(57) Blake Comeau-(67) Ryan O'Marra-(29) Petteri Nokelainen
(10) Sean Bergenheim-((47) Justin Papineau-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(4) Joel Bouchard
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(43) Ryan Caldwell
(2) Chris Campoli-(6) Bruno Gervais
(30) Garth Snow
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(11) PJ Axelsson-(19) Joe Thornton-(21) Brad Isbister
(40) Eric Healey-(26) Brad Boyes-(89) Zdenek Blatney
(83) Pat Leahy-(12) Tom Fitzgerald-(18) Ian Moran
(47) Eric Nicklaus-(72) Ben Walter-(75) Colton Orr
(22) Brian Leetch-(45) Mark Stuart
(68) Milan Jurcina-(48) Jay Leach
(46) Jonathan Girard-(25) Hal Gill
(1) Andrew Raycroft
(30) Tim Thomas