With 5:20 left in the second period and the game tied at one, Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro made his move, streaking toward the left circle to pounce on a loose puck and stop a shorthanded breakaway.
Bad move. Brad Marchand was waiting.
Marchand squarely absorbed DiPietro’s clearing attempt, darting past him to calmly collect the puck along the end boards and easily maneuver a backhander into an open net for a 2-1 Bruins lead.
Although Michael Ryder scored an insurance goal in the third and the Bruins tallied two empty-netters with 1:03 left in regulation, Marchand's shorthanded goal proved the turning point in the Islanders 5-2 loss at TD Garden--the team's 18th defeat in the past 19 games.
The Islanders also tied a franchise record--set at 12 games in 1972-73-- for most consecutive games without a power-play goal after three unsuccessful attempts last night.
"There's a small margin of error in this league. It's a play here and a play there," said DiPietro, who made 32 saves in his first start since a 6-5 loss to the Rangers one week prior. "Unfortunately that clearing attempt on the power-play cost us."
Perhaps the most frustrating element of DiPietro's gaffe was the fact that he kept his team in the game for most of the night.
"He was our best player," head coach Jack Capuano said. "The first period, they could've been up two or three goals. He played extremely well."
The game took on an all-too-familiar feel for the Islanders with 8:07 left to play in the first period.
With 24 seconds left on the team's 37th straight unsuccessful power play attempt-- entered last night’s contest without a power-play goal in eleven straight games--Mark Eaton took a holding penalty to negate their first man-advantage of the game.
Then, within the span 40 seconds, things worsened quickly for the Islanders.
Trying to clear the puck on the penalty-kill, DiPietro airmailed it over the glass for a delay-of-game whistle that put the Islanders down two men for 33 seconds.
Shortly after the Islanders killed off the first Bruins power play, defenseman Radek Martinek took a Zdeno Chara slapshot to the left wrist.
Three seconds after Martinek was helped off the ice by head trainer Garrett Timms (he returned to the game the next period), the Bruins took a 1-0 lead right off the draw when Milan Lucic’s shot hit the left post and glanced off DiPietro's right skate at 14:00.
The Islanders tied the game in the second period with Frans Nielsen’s second shorthanded penalty shot goal of the season--- he also scored one against the Flyers on October 30—at 3:41.
After being tripped up by Patrice Bergeron on a breakaway Nielsen resorted to his trusty backhand— surprise, surprise—against Bruins backup goaltender Tuukka Rask.
A poor decision by DiPietro later in the period, however, gift-wrapped a 2-1 Bruins lead at 14:40.
With the Bruins on the penalty kill, DiPietro spoon-fed the puck right to Marchand, who scored his third shorthanded goal of the season.
"That was tough because I should've put that one in and they went down on the other end and scored," said John Tavares, whose rebound was sent up the boards by Gregory Campbell to spring Marchand.
With 8 minutes to play in the third period, Tavares was hit in the right elbow by--again--a shot from Chara, but he returned shortly after a visit to the trainer's room. Tavares said X-rays came back negative.
"I was pretty sore when I came back in, so we'll take another look at it tomorrow," he said. "I'm just glad the tests came back negative."
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