By Josh Cain, Daily Free Press Staff
Few probably would have expected that the Boston Bruins’ game against the New York Islanders on Saturday would become an instant classic. But as it turns out, the Bruins’ 4-3, come-from-behind shootout win at the TD Banknorth Garden was just that.
The Bruins (2-2-0) rallied in the final eight minutes in regulation to come back from a three-goal deficit. Blake Wheeler and Mark Savard scored in the shootout to seal the win.
“Hopefully this will give us another boost that we need right now to get us past this tough stage,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referring to the Bruins slow start. On Thursday, the Boston lost to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 6-1.
Savard, Byron Bitz and Matt Hunwick scored the late goals to give the Bruins a chance in overtime.
The Islanders (0-0-3) looked like they had put away what could have been their first win of the season in the second period after scoring three goals in just over 10 minutes. First-round draft pick John Tavares was the key, providing an assist and a goal in his first NHL visit to Boston.
New York had a great opportunity in the middle of the first period when Boston was called on back-to-back penalties, giving the Islanders a two-man advantage for a little over 1:30.
The Bruins defense was not about to let the Islanders take advantage of that opportunity, however. After the penalty timer finally elapsed, the score remained 0-0.
That would not, however, be the story of the second period when the Islanders took advantage of a Bruins team that gave up penalty after penalty.
“The penalties took away a lot of our momentum, but we did a good job killing them,” Julien said.
New York scored its first goal of the night at 4:04 in the second. A hooking penalty on the Bruins’ Lucic gave the Islanders a man-advantage. Center Rob Schremp got the puck in the middle of the left face-off circle and took a shot that bounced off goalkeeper Tuukka Rask’s leg. Winger Jon Sim was there for the rebound, flipping the puck over Rask’s right shoulder for his first goal of the season.
Radek Martinek was next, shooting from the right circle just over Rask’s left shoulder to make the score 2-0. Defenseman Mark Streit and Tavares assisted.
At 15:48, Tavares charged through the right circle and laid a wrister into the top left corner of the net, just past Rask who was expecting him to pass it off to his teammate on the left side.
Things looked desperate for the Bruins in the third, their own crowd booing what looked like another poor effort. But Boston turned it on at just the right time.
In the third period at 8:01, Savard started the heroics with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle that sailed past an off-guard Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Bitz made it look easy when he sunk a backhanded shot past an Islanders defender and Roloson to make the score 3-2.
However, the most improbable of all was Hunwick’s goal at 2:34. The defenseman shot a wrister from the Islanders’ blueline that sailed just past a crowd in front of the net and landed in the top-right corner for the tying goal.
In the shootout, Wheeler got things started with a goal through the five-hole. Savard’s backhander beat Roloson, and Rask sealed the deal with a save on a shot from Kyle Okposo.
Rask, a 22-year-old rookie from Finland, got a lot of credit from Julien for his performance. Despite letting up three goals, Rask played well in his Boston debut with 35 saves. Julien said that facing 16 shots in the first period kept Rask “from getting nervous” late in the game.