Beating the East Division-leading Bruins has been an accomplishment this season.
The Islanders, playing a stronger defensive game than the defense-minded Bruins and translating that into a season-high 42 shots in Saturday night’s 4-2 win at Nassau Coliseum, have done it twice. Those are the only regulation losses for the Bruins (10-2-2).
"They’re a good hockey team," Jordan Eberle said. "They play the right way. They’re detailed. They’re similar to the style that we play, defensively responsible, and they have that good line that contributes a lot on offense. Their record speaks for itself this year. When you’re able to beat a team like that a couple times, that should give your group confidence that you’re right up there with the best."
The Bruins’ lethal top line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak did score twice. But so did Jean-Gabriel Pageau with Leo Komarov (two assists) and Oliver Wahlstrom, and Brock Nelson’s line with Eberle and Michael Dal Colle was dominant.
"We know what we are. We know how we have to play," coach Barry Trotz said. "If we play like we did tonight, we’ll be a hard team to beat night in and night out. And that’s what we’re trying to establish, and this group is getting some traction doing it."
The Islanders (6-4-3), who beat the Bruins, 1-0, at the Coliseum on Jan. 18, extended their point streak to six games (3-0-3) as Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots.
"We’re finding ways to string games together," said Nelson, who became the 22nd Islander to reach 300 career points with a primary assist on Eberle’s goal from the right that slipped through Tuukka Rask’s pad to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 15:16 of the first period. "Getting points is huge and you like to get the wins and it was a big one tonight."
"We had to be ready from the start," said Pageau, who sealed the victory with the Islanders’ first shorthanded goal of the season off Komarov’s feed at 14:32 of the third period. "They’re a top team. They’re going to play a hard game, a physical game. They have a lot of details in their game. I thought we came out and played a solid game. We played with confidence and made some hard plays and I thought we were better than them around the net."
Toward the end of a second period Trotz said might have been their best period of the season, the Islanders softened just enough for Bergeron to connect on a wrist shot from the right off a three-on-two rush to tie the score at 2 at 16:51.
Mathew Barzal, who drew a hooking call against Pastrnak at 4:09 of the third period, gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead at 5:30 with a power-play one-timer from the left off Anders Lee’s cross-crease feed. Seconds earlier, Barzal, who extended his point streak to a career-high eight games, shot high from the same spot.
The Islanders are 3-for-4 on the power play in their last four games.
Marchand made it 1-0 at 8:41 of the first period as Matt Martin was caught on the ice for a shift lasting 2 minutes, 6 seconds and linemate Cal Clutterbuck was on the ice for 2:00.
From there, the Islanders outshot the Bruins 13-3 the rest of the period. Pageau tied the score at 1 at 11:36, knocking in defenseman Ryan Pulock’s feed from the right wall.
The Bruins, who beat the Rangers, 1-0, at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, played the final two periods down to five defensemen after Jakub Zboril exited with an upper-body issue.
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