ISLANDERS 2 BRUINS 1 — Nabokov steals one and Bailey delivers two to push Isles closer to playoffs

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Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 10.19.52 PMThe Isles were outplayed in the first to the tune of a 16-9 shots advantage, but they were able to get a late goal from Josh Bailey with 20.5 seconds left to take a 1-0 lead into intermission.  Kyle Okposo started the play off with a “look out” pass that was nearly intercepted in the Isles zone, but Mark Streit was able to grab it and drive it into the Bruins zone.  He dropped it to Josh Bailey for a no doubt slapper to the top right corner through a screen and some Casey Cizikas distraction.

But the real story was the Evgeny Nabokov.  Both the good and the bad.  He came up with some big saves, but probably created a couple of extra chances by failing to control a couple of rebounds.  A weak floater on net by Boston was poorly swept away right to another Bruin for a couple of shots early on.

He came up pretty big on a chance stemming from a Streit giveaway on a pinch with Keith Aucoin covering for him.  On that particular play, Nabby couldn’t locate a rebound resulting in a couple of extra pokes by Chis Kelly and Jordan Caron that he stopped.  The play was luckily blown dead by the officials when they lost sight of the puck, but contrary to those in attendance, the puck never crossed the goal line on the play.

The Isles had a pretty significant scare when Travis Hamonic was tripped in the corner and landed very awkwardly on his foot.  He looked to have a knee injury and left for a few minutes, but returned to action and looked none the worse for the wear.

The Isles were all over the Bruins in the first two minutes of the second with a couple a few several a bunch of chances over the spread of a couple of different lines.  Rask denied shots from Boyes, Moulson, Tavares and Okposo with a sprinkling of a couple of shots from the point.  And as much as they were outplayed in the first, they outplayed Boston by more in the second.

If not for a delay of game (over the glass) penalty by Boyes to break the momentum, what turned out to be a pretty dominant period by the Isles could have been a lot worse.  During that Bruins power play though, Tyler Seguin was able to squeak a hard wrist shot through Nabokov after a great cross-ice pass. The Isles were scrambling a bit on the play because Cizikas decided to fully lay out in front of a Chara slap shot and was wounded in the process.  Gotta love the kid’s courage.

The Islanders’ forecheck returned for business soon after that.   Okposo hit a post,  Aucoin was stoned on a tip in attempt off a beautiful feed from Colin McDonald and that forecheck was creating rushed decisions and some very sloppy defensive zone play by the Bruins.

Matt Moulson thought he had netted the go ahead goal after a tic-tac-toe pass from Tavares.  Moulson had two whacks from point blank (TM) but was denied by Rask.  Moulson was incredulous.

The go-ahead goal came from the same man who opened the scoring.  Josh Bailey was able to gain the Bruins zone, and forced the defenders deep enough to get a great wrister off from the middle of the left circle that went between Rask’s arm and body and slowly trickled into the net.

The Bruins responded with a big shift out of the Campbell/Lucic/Jagr line and the Isles were forced to ice the puck and take their time out.  It was a strange line of Tavares/Martin/McDonald on the ice at the time.  They were able to reverse momentum again after a big toe save from Nabby on Chris Kelly after a beautiful centering feed by Chara to finish the period out strong.  Notable in the period, it looked like the Isles were adjusting to officiating…there was some clutching, some holding, some chopping, whacking and picking and pushing…and it was glorious.

The Bruins came out pushing play early in the third.  The Campbell/Jagr/Lucic line created a couple of scoring chances against the Islanders’ defensive stalwarts Okposo, Nielsen and Bailey.  But true to their recent form, the Isles were resilient and maintained a shot advantage in the third when trailing.  They found ways to get the pucks deep when nothing was available, and generated scoring chances when there was an opening.

Michael Grabner’s speed was a nice factor against a probably exhausted Bruins team.  He created space after getting a puck to McDonald for a shot and Grabner was able to tap the rebound over the net. Later in the period, he was able to walk around Dennis Seidenberg for a shot and get to his own rebound for another.

Casey Cizikas got a great scoring feed from Jesse Joensuu and one-timed a shot that Rask was able to swallow up.  Rask kept the outcome of this game from being far worse for Boston and it was evident why they saved him for tonight and played rookie Anton Khudobin last night against the Devils.

Jaromir Jagr came close to tying the game after he cut back toward the middle on Andrew MacDonald and fired a shot through with Lucic traffic in the vicinity.  Nabokov was able to get a piece of that one as well.

There were another couple of injury scares when Mark Streit went off after taking an errant stick to the face from Tyler Seguin.  Streit went off for repairs and returned . Frans Nielsen also took some damage after a big hit from Rich Peverly that possibly could have been considered boarding.  He never left the bench but looked to be in some discomfort.  It is great to see these guys playing hard, playing hurt, and not giving up.

Josh Bailey came ever so close to sealing things up with a hat trick after he and Kyle Okposo came in two on one and Okposo drew the defenseman and sent Baily in unobstructed.  Bailey chipped a shot that Rask steered away to keep things close.

Boston pulled Rask with about 1:30 left, but the Isles were generally able to clamp down on Boston as they have the last couple of weeks when scores are tight late in the game, and they improved to 8-1-1 in their last 10 and are on a three game win streak going into Saturday’s game against the Rangers with playoff position at stake.  The playoff picture can be found here, but know that the Isles did not get any help tonight.

NOTICINGS:

  • The Isles were able to control their own blue line pretty well tonight and forced some turnovers.  Their outlets were short and crisp to beat an aggressive Bruins forecheck.  They are reading their opponents better.
  • Underrated play; Cizikas had a forecheck (on his own) hard enough to keep puck in B’s zone and allow the Isles to change after extended shift.
  • Cizikas’ hustle cannot be understated.  He is the exact type of player you want in grind it out games like these against big tough opponents.  He can wear you down.
  • Josh Bailey’s shot is lethal.  Let’s hope he can stay this hot.
  • Andrew MacDonald played 26:14 and blocked 4 shots against a very tough lineup.
  • Brad Boyes had a pretty great game on the forecheck.  Notably against Chara where he hit him, and won a couple of pucks against him.
  • I saw Grabner win a board battle against Seidenberg and he was hitting people again too.
  • It looks like Jack Capuano has all of these guys buying in.  They are sacrificing their bodies and giving everything on every shift and it is paying off.
  • Nabokov recovered nicely from some early rebound control problems and was solid the rest of the way.   He was also instrumental with defensive puck movement on a couple of occasions outletting to defensemen or capturing and leaving behind the net.  He was definitely a steadying presence back there tonight.