December 31, 2013

Cellar-dwelling Isles snap Bruins' home winning streak

By Jesse Connolly

The Isles spoiled New Year's Eve for the Boston faithful, as the Bruins ended the calendar year by squandering a 3-1 lead. (Getty Images)

Final: New York 5, Boston 3

Recap: David Krejci opened the scoring with the 100th goal of his NHL career, grabbing a rebound in the slot and putting it past Evgeni Nabokov. That remained the only goal until just short of the six-minute mark of the middle frame.

With the Isles on the power play and Thomas Vanek camping out in front of Tuukka Rask, a Frans Nielsen shot went through No. 40's wickets to tie the game at 1-1. Seven minutes later, Boston tallied twice in the span of 25 seconds, with Patrice Bergeron and then Dan Paille -- on a goal originally credited to Zdeno Chara -- scoring to make it 3-1. 

But the B's shot themselves in the foot with two penalties late in the second period. New York scored after Milan Lucic went off for cross-checking, and again when Rask was penalized for shooting the puck over the glass. Nielsen's second goal of the game cut the lead to one, while Kyle Okposo make it 3-3 with three seconds to go before the intermission.

In the third, Islanders captain John Tavares was the only player to found twine. He did so twice, putting New York ahead for the first time on the night, scoring what proved to be the game-winner just 32 ticks into the final frame and adding an insurance marker with 6:43 left in the contest.

Records: New York 13-21-7, 33 points; Boston 26-12-2, 54 points

Key Play of the Game: On the game-winner, Vanek entered the offensive zone and sent a pass through defenders down the slot. Tavares got a whack at it, with his momentum carrying him toward a rebound about five feet from the far post. He put it back on net, off Rask and into the cage. 

Connolly's Commendations: The Krejci line was really feeling it tonight. No. 46 and his linemates, Luic and Jarome Iginla, combined for 13 shots on goal, but somehow only one made it past Nabokov. 

Speaking of Nabokov, after a rough go of it in the first 40 minutes, the veteran Russian stepped it up big time in the third. He stopped all of Boston's 14 shots over the final 20 minutes of play.

Connolly's Critiques: After stringing together four straight wins -- a streak that included two shutouts -- it's been tough sledding for Rask in his last two starts. He was pulled in Ottawa after allowing three goals in 20-plus minutes of action, and allowed five tallies on 31 shots on this one -- a few of which were certainly of the I-wish-I-could-have-that-back variety.

It's extremely rare for Bergeron and Chara to be out on the ice at the same time when a puck winds up in Boston' net, but it happen twice in tonight's tilt (Okposo's power-pay goal, Tavares' game-winner). Each player was out there for three goals against.

Notes: Milan Lucic was tossed from the game with under four minutes to go after boarding Travis Hamonic, and subsequently arguing the call. ... The B's 13-0-2 run at home came to a crashing halt. They had reeled off eight-straight victories at TD Garden. ... Since the 2003-04 season, the Bruins own a 4-4-1 record in their final games of the calendar year. Lockouts wiped out 2005 and 2012. Boston's lost two straight on New Year's Eve. 

Final Thoughts: When you haven't lost a home game in regulation in over two months, you hate to see such a magnificent streak come to an end against a dangerous-but-flawed team like the Islanders. New York's in last place in the Metropolitan Division and is tied for the league lead with 13 losses on the road. Boston's now 0-2 on the season against them, and thus responsible for two of their nine regulation victories. No bueno.

Next: The B's will play host to the Preds on Thursday. Boston went down to Nashville just before Christmas and earned a 5-0 victory.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ