Nothing went right for the Islanders.
And the Bruins’ dominant play was only part of the problem.
“They played a playoff-type game,” captain Anders Lee said. “Everyone was pushing us up against the wall and our pushback wasn’t good enough.”
The Islanders were outworked in every phase on the ice and outshot by a three-to-one ratio as they fell out of first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-0 loss on Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 13,917 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
But just as invaluable fourth-line center Casey Cizikas returned from a two-game absence because of a lower-body strain and goalie Robin Lehner made his first start in seven games, missing the first three of those to a head injury, the Islanders lost center Valtteri Filppula and Cal Clutterbuck to upper-body injuries.
Losing either would be a huge blow to this playoff push.
“At this point we don’t know the extent of the injuries but, hopefully, it’s nothing too serious,” said Josh Bailey, a candidate to move into the middle if Filppula is out. “We want those guys in the lineup.”
“We’ve kind of been battling some injuries the last month,” added left wing Matt Martin, who tried to spark the Islanders after a somnolent first period by fighting 6-9, 250-pound Zdeno Chara off the opening faceoff of the second period. “It’s not an excuse. We’ve got to find a way to win games. The guys that were playing, it wasn’t good enough.”
The Islanders (42-24-7), who got a season-low 13 shots on goal, were shut out for the third time and suffered their worst defeat since a 5-0 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 21.
The Capitals moved two points ahead in the division by winning 4-1 at New Jersey while the third-place Penguins moved within two points of the Islanders with a 3-2 shootout loss at Carolina.
“I think, from all of us, it was not good enough,” said Lehner, who made 34 saves and was only really at fault on the first goal when he could not handle Sean Kuraly’s shot from the right circle with his glove at 1:12 of the first period. “When we were in our zone, I felt like we battled but we were in our zone a lot. It was a pretty one-sided game.”
To cap the demoralizing night, the remaining Boston fans loudly chanted “Let’s Go Bruins” after Jake DeBrusk came out of the penalty box and was sprung for a breakaway goal to make it 5-0 at 10:20 of the third period.
Tuukka Rask, who termed the game “easy,” got his fourth shutout for the Bruins (44-20-9), who swept the three-game season series from the Islanders and are the only team the Islanders have not beaten over two seasons.
The Islanders spent the bulk of the first period skating on their heels in their own zone as they were outshot 14-2, both of their long-range shots coming from defensemen.
Filppula exited after being checked hard into the glass behind the Bruins’ crease by Connor Clifton at 10:26 of the first period, appearing to favor his left arm. Clutterbuck left the ice at 12:31 of the second period after going hard into the boards with defenseman John Moore.
The Bruins took a 2-0 lead at 2:52 of the second period as Clutterbuck overskated the puck deep in the Islanders’ zone and Noel Acciari swooped in to beat Lehner.
Kuraly outworked Bailey in the slot to make it 3-0 at 16:17 of the third period and Patrice Bergeron made it 4-0 at 6:32 of the third period after Thomas Hickey over-skated the puck.