Isles' home woes continue in loss to Bruins
This might not have been a game the Islanders had in hand and gave away, nor a game they were never in. The Bruins are perhaps the deepest, most formidable foe in the Eastern Conference and they make opponents earn everything.
The Islanders competed well, pumping 37 shots on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. But a couple of breakdowns early in the second turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 deficit, and the Bruins, 8-1-1 away from Boston, do not play loose with the lead.
"We could say this or that, but the bottom line is we are not winning the games," said Evgeni Nabokov, who made 30 saves. "We're playing in front of our fans, our building, and you don't want a record like that."
They still have five games left on this seven-game homestand, but all the Isles have succeeded in doing this season is made several visitors feel at home.
The Islanders' first period was strong; they matched the Bruins' relentless physical approach and outworked the team that outworks everyone for a tying goal when Casey Cizikas beat Patrice Bergeron down the ice to chip in Josh Bailey's feed at 15:49.
That evened the score after Adam McQuaid's point shot eluded Nabokov at 6:43. Nabokov had a clear look at McQuaid's drive, but the puck squirted underneath him, causing plenty of applause from the numerous black and gold-clad fans among the 12,788 at the Coliseum.
But very quickly in the second period, the Islanders hesitated and the Bruins stormed into attack mode. Brad Marchand bulled past Thomas Hickey to bury a rebound of Andrew Ference's shot just 38 seconds into the second; Jack Capuano and his staff had been keeping John Tavares' line away from Zdeno Chara, but Tavares and his linemates were on the ice for the first two Bruins goals.
"We've got to pick up our coverages," said Tavares, who had four shots but was stifled by the Bruins' physical defensemen. "It's just a matter of sorting out coverages because you can't give them too much time."
Chara got the Bruins going for a 3-1 lead, easily avoiding a deep forecheck by Michael Grabner and David Ullstrom to start a three-on-three rush. With perfect spacing against a scrambled-looking Isles set, Nathan Horton fed Milan Lucic, who fed David Krejci for a perfect one-timer at 5:16.
Rask stopped a pair of Grabner breakaways, one in each of the first two periods, and got some help when Andrew MacDonald's wrister caromed off the crossbar in the second.
"I thought we competed hard -- maybe we deserved better," Capuano said. "A couple breakdowns cost us."
There was more effort than the Isles showed in blowing a 2-0 lead Sunday to the Hurricanes.
But four points in 10 home games is almost unthinkable. Especially when paired with a 6-3-1 record away from home.
"If we're even .500 at home," Bailey said, "we've got a quality [overall] record that puts us in playoff position. We've got to change that, and quickly."