By Christian Arnold
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-1, on Saturday night, in what was New York’s most defensively-sound game of the season.
The Isles outshot Boston 34-27 and starting goaltender Kevin Poulin let in just one goal all night.
“I thought Kevin [Poulin] really played well tonight,” Islander head coach Jack Capuano said. “A team like that … they crash the net probably as hard as I’ve seen a team. They’ve got great net presence and their big bodies. You have to track the puck, you have to be aggressive in there and I thought he was [playing] real well. He battled hard for us.”
New York’s defense was in shutdown mode most of the night and, when challenged, Poulin was able to make the big saves.
“We were just tight, we swarmed at the right times, we out-manned them and that’s how we draw it up in practice,” defenseman Thomas Hickey said about the defensive performance.
After a scoreless first period, a fluky goal at 6:15 into the second gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Thomas Vanek backhanded the puck at the net from the far side and his shot hit the shoulder of Bruins starter Chad Johnson. John Tavares was able to bat the rebound out the air and into the net.
Andrew MacDonald made it 2-0 midway through the period with a blast from the point. Two minutes later, the Bruins scored their first goal of the game courtesy of Dougie Hamilton, but the Isles answered 41 seconds later.
Kyle Okposo and Vanek were able to break out of the Isles zone on an odd-man rush. Okposo sent a cross-ice pass to Vanek, who put the one-timer past Johnson for his first goal as an Islander.
“A great play by Kyle and I just had to bury it there,” Vanek said about his first goal.
The Islanders penalty kill also came up big. They shut down a four-minute Bruins power play early in the third period, after Tavares was called for hooking and then for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Capuano was pleased with the team’s defensive effort in the win, saying it is about playing with poise and confidence.
“It’s about a lot of things we go over with them and I think the last couple of games you can see it,” he said. “They can see it, too, and guys see that on the bench. We need them to continue to do the job for us back there. I thought we blocked some shots and they played hard back there.”
On the other end of the arena, Bruins coach Claude Julien was less than pleased with his team’s performance.
“I don’t know what you want to call it, but I call it not good enough,” Julien said after the game. “There is no way in the world you should come in here and play the way we played. We’re not competing not hard enough. We’re just not good enough right now and you see the difference in the team that beat you tonight.”
For the Islanders they hope to build off the win over the Bruins. The win over Boston coupled with Friday night’s win over Ottawa was the first time New York had won two games in a row.
“We haven’t done that all season long and that’s huge when you can get on a roll,” Hickey said. “I think that’s what made us so good last year. Once we got momentum we kept and it started snowballing. Hopefully it’s the start of something now.”
The Islanders do not play again until Tuesday, when they take on the Washington Capitals in D.C. The Bruins also return to action on Tuesday, hosting the Dallas Stars at TD Garden.