The Boston Bruins can't seem to lose on the road. The New York Islanders still can't find a way to win at home.
The Bruins finished a 4-1-0 trip with a near-perfect road game Tuesday night when they defeated the Islanders 4-1, dropping New York to a League-worst 2-8-0 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves as Boston won its fourth in a row after opening the trip with a loss at the Buffalo Sabres.
At 12-2-2, including 8-1-1 away from home, the Bruins are off to their best start since 1976-77.
"This was a great road game," said center Patrice Bergeron, who had two assists. "We never stopped working and we were fortunate to have a couple of bounces go our way."
The Islanders didn't make it easy -- they generated a lot of chances, especially on the rush -- but in the end the Bruins improved to 17-4-1 in their past 22 games against the Islanders, including victories in both games this season.
"We talked about consistency," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Not every night is great, but it has to be good enough to win and we've done that so far."
Rask improved to 6-0-1 in his past seven starts, a stretch in which he hasn't allowed more than two goals in any game.
"I'm feeling very comfortable," Rask said. "And my teammates have been great in front of me. The key for us is to keep this going when we get home."
The Bruins are back in Boston on Thursday to play the Ottawa Senators.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first 20 minutes, but goals by Brad Marchand and David Krejci put the Bruins ahead. Rask kept the Islanders off the board, and Gregory Campbell hit the empty net with 1:05 remaining.
"We've gotten solid goaltending, or timely scoring, or great defensive plays," Julien said, "and all of that gives us the stability a good team needs."
The Islanders got 30 saves by Evgeni Nabokov, but Rask was flawless except for a first-period goal by Casey Cizikas. New York is 8-11-1, and 0-2-0 on a seven-game homestand that continues against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano, who questioned the effort of some of his players in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, said he had no complaints with his team's work ethic this time.
"We competed hard," Capuano said. "That’s one of the best teams that we’re going to play and I give our guys credit. We did a lot of good things. A couple breakdowns cost us some goals.
"There are no easy games. We really have to learn to win close games. We had 37 shots, we worked hard and maybe we deserved better. The effort was there."
The Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the game on a goal from an unlikely source. Defenseman Adam McQuaid took a pass from Tyler Seguin, got near the top of the right circle and teed up a slap shot that went between the right arm and body of Nabokov for his first goal of the season and the seventh of his four-year NHL career.
Rask made the best save of the first period just after the eight-minute mark when Islanders speedster Michael Grabner broke up a play in his own zone and raced in on a breakaway. He tried a deke, but Rask didn't bite and got his left pad on the shot.
The Islanders had no success on their first power play after Campbell was sent off for tripping at 13:18, but they tied the game at 15:49. New York's Josh Bailey picked up a pass from Andrew MacDonald near the red line, raced into the Boston zone and reached the lower right circle before reaching around Dennis Seidenberg and putting a backhand pass onto the stick of an oncoming Cizikas. The rookie center lifted a 10-footer over Rask's glove for his second of the season.
Rask used his head to preserve the tie in the final seconds of the period, taking John Tavares' wrister from the high slot off the mask.
The Bruins needed 38 seconds after the opening faceoff of the second period to regain the lead. Andrew Ference's shot from the left point hit a defender in the slot and came right to Marchand, who had circled out from behind the net. Marchand flipped a backhander past Nabokov for his 10th of the season.
Boston added to the lead at 5:16 on an excellent 200-foot play. Zdeno Chara lugged the puck out from behind his net and fed Nathan Horton at center ice. Horton carried into the Islanders' zone and fed Milan Lucic in the slot; Lucic faked a shot and dished to Krejci in the lower left circle for a wide-open one-timer past Nabokov.
Rask preserved the two-goal lead during a late Islanders power play when he stopped Mark Streit's deflected point shot through a screen, then got his right pad on Matt Moulson's rebound try.
The third period was a goaltending duel between Rask and Nabokov, each of whom excelled until the Islanders pulled Nabokov for an extra attacker and Campbell slid a shot into the empty net at 18:55.
It was another frustrating night at home for the Islanders, who are trying to avoid a sixth consecutive non-playoff season.
"There's a lot of hockey left to play," Capuano added. "We have to compete like we played tonight every night."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report