Let’s start with a positive: The Islanders weren’t passively awful, as they had been the night before.
"We were way better this game," coach Barry Trotz said. "If we had played this game the other night, I think we might have won the hockey game."
Still, the Islanders departed Boston having been swept in a two-game series. The Bruins scored twice in a span of 50 seconds bridging the first and second periods in a 3-0 win over the Islanders on Friday night before a crowd of 2,191 at TD Garden.
An inept first period led to Thursday’s 4-1 defeat, an effort Trotz deemed "unacceptable."
Friday might have been better, but the Islanders still went 0-for-5 on the power play.
"[Thursday] night wasn’t good by us in pretty much any facet of the game," defenseman Andy Greene said. "I thought tonight we played pretty well. It was tough to give them momentum at the end of the first and then at the beginning of the second, too."
The Islanders (27-13-4) remained two points behind the first-place Capitals in the East Division and one point ahead of the third-place Penguins. They will conclude this three-game road trip against the Flyers on Sunday.
Ilya Sorokin, making his first start against the Bruins after Semyon Varlamov started the first six games this season, stopped 25 shots. Boston’s Jeremy Swayman made 25 saves for his first career shutout in his fifth game.
Trotz altered his power-play units, using defensemen Nick Leddy and Ryan Pulock with Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson. Defenseman Noah Dobson quarterbacked the other unit with Kyle Palmieri, Anthony Beauvillier, Oliver Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Trotz later shifted Wahlstrom to the shooter’s spot on Barzal’s unit for Pulock.
But the power play — the focus of two practices before departing for Boston — had three chances in the third period with the Islanders down two goals and couldn’t chip away at the deficit.
"The third period, we had opportunities," Trotz said. "It’s not coming real easy right now and we played a real good hockey team that’s desperate because they know they’ve still got some ground to make up."
The Islanders’ first period was light years better than the first 20 minutes on Thursday, when they were outshot 23-7 and outchanced 33-11.
Yet it could have been just as disheartening after David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 2.4 seconds remaining. Defenseman Scott Mayfield went to confront Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly below the goal line, leaving the lethal Pastrnak open in front of the crease.
Then Taylor Hall beat Mayfield to the crease and converted David Krejci’s feed 47 seconds into the second period.
"You never want to give up a late goal," Matt Martin said. "It can be a little deflating, especially when you’ve got to think about it for 15, 20 minutes while you’re in the dressing room. We did have a really strong first and I think we were still feeling pretty confident about our game in intermission."
The Islanders dominated the first period, with Swayman making 10 saves. Nelson shot high on an open look at the net just 52 seconds in.
"It wouldn’t hurt the confidence, you get that early one," Trotz said. "I thought our bench was good, we had lots of battle in it. I think the hockey gods paid us back for not showing up the other night."
Swayman made a blocker save on Michael Dal Colle at the crease at 3:10 of the first and denied both Beauvillier and Nelson on a two-on-one shorthanded rush at 8:18.
Curtis Lazar added an empty-net goal at 18:48 of the third period.
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