Tavares scores winner to beat Bruins
BOSTON -- The Islanders had been headed the wrong way in the standings for the past week, and they came here to finish what had been an ugly road trip.
They showed they are not quite finished with this season, however. Thanks to a lucky no-call by the officials and a neat deflection by John Tavares with 4:39 to play, the Isles grabbed a 3-2 win over the Northeast Division-leading Bruins Saturday and head home with a little bit of confidence after going 0-2-1 on the first three stops of their trip.
"I thought we responded really well," said Evgeni Nabokov, who was excellent in making 32 saves, including an arm stop on Milan Lucic with 20 seconds to go that preserved the two points. "You have to remember, it's our fourth game on the road, things are not going so well and the boys, they were fighting the whole way. That's the important part."
There were familiar points at which the Islanders could have caved against a feisty Bruins team -- Lucic's power-play goal at 15:10 of the first from alone on Nabokov's doorstep, or Tyler Seguin's brilliant rush and backhand past Nabokov to tie it at 2-2 with 12:31 to go.
But showing a determination and follow-through that had been missing in bad losses to the Senators and Flyers, and showing the mental toughness that disappeared in the closing minutes of an overtime loss to the Capitals, the Islanders didn't wilt.
In the first, Josh Bailey -- who took a penalty for a retaliatory slash on superpest Brad Marchand that led to Lucic's goal -- converted a perfect pass from Frans Nielsen to tie the score just 2:26 after the Bruins opened the scoring.
And the Islanders' power play, which had been a serious mess in going 1-for-15 in the previous six games and 0-for-2 in the first period Saturday, changed up its attack and produced the go-ahead goal when Matt Moulson's jam shot at 15:35 of the second gave the Isles a 2-1 lead after two periods.
"We dug deep and just kept it simple against a physical, tough team," Tavares said.
They needed to dig deeper after Seguin's goal, a set play off a Bruins faceoff win in which Zdeno Chara banked a puck off the boards and Seguin simply blew by both Moulson and Andrew MacDonald for the goal.
The Bruins tried a similar play in the closing minutes, but it strangely led to Tavares' winner.
Johnny Boychuk fired the puck from behind his own net all the way down, hoping Seguin would beat Travis Hamonic to it. Seguin didn't get there, but it didn't appear that MacDonald did either, and the linesman didn't blow a whistle for icing.
Lucic didn't touch it next, and Moulson scooped up the puck as the players eyed the linesman, waiting for a call that never came. Moulson's slap shot was tipped by Tavares past Tim Thomas, and the Isles celebrated as the Bruins raised their arms in disbelief.
"It could've been [icing]. If it was, we're not going to complain," Tavares said. "Sometimes the bounces go your way and sometimes they don't."
And there is still, however faint, an opportunity left for this season. The Islanders flew straight home to prepare for the Devils Sunday at the Coliseum. They are still in 13th place, seven points out of eighth, with 17 games to go.