Casey Cizikas scored with 5:12 left in the first overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory in Game 2 and even the East Division series with the Bruins at 1-1 on Monday night.
The series shifts to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday.
It was a night of terrible bounces for the B’s and that’s how it ended. Jeremy Lauzon, who had a New York power-play goal go off his skate in the second period, made a dish to Charlie Coyle high in the offensive zone but it went off Coyle’s skate and gave Cizikas a clean breakaway. He buried his chance over Tuukka Rask’s blocker to nail down the win and change the complexion of this series.
It also wiped out a spirited comeback by the B’s.
“That’s one that has to go down the wall and toward the net,” coach Bruce Cassidy said of the decisive play. “At the end of the day, you learn from it. Lauzon needed to know where his partner was and didn’t.”
After giving up three goals in the second period to trail 3-1, Patrice Bergeron got the B’s back to within a goal at 10:34. After a long, grinding shift, Brad Marchand fed Bergeron in the high slot and the captain beat Semyon Varlamov over the blocker.
Then, with 5:21 left in regulation, the entire Bruins bench began banging their sticks as they saw the Islanders had an extra man on the ice and the officials caught it.
On the advantage, Marchand tied it up with 4:54 left in the third. After making an exchange with Charlie McAvoy on the left wing, Marchand walked into the left circle and snapped a shot that beat Varlamov to the glove side.
Near disaster struck with 4:10 left in the third when Mike Reilly’s stick broke at the left point and he played the puck with it. He got nailed for the two-minute infraction, but the B’s were able to kill it off and the teams went to the OT.
The B’s had their chance to win it there. The best one came when David Krejci gave Taylor Hall a great rebound off Varlamov’s pads, but Varlamov recovered in time to make a great stop on Hall’s backhander.
“They’re a good hockey team and we knew they were going to have their pushes,” Coyle said. “We had some bad bounces but that’s hockey.”
With Craig Smith on the sidelines because of a lower body injury, Cassidy shuffled his second and third lines, moving Jake DeBrusk up to take Smith’s place on the second line with Krejci and inserting Karson Kuhlman into the lineup, stationing him on the Coyle line.
And it was the Coyle line that put the B’s up 1-0 just 2:38 in on the first shot of the game.
Kuhlman mushed a puck out of he Bruins’ zone at the blue line and got it over to Nick Ritchie in the neutral zone. Ritchie in turn fed it up to Coyle, who did the rest. He carried the puck down the left side on his off wing, turned defenseman Nick Leddy and then cut to his forehand on a power move, tucking it past Varlamov.
It was a rude welcome for Varlamov, who was returning to action for the first time since being replaced by Ilya Sorokin after losing Games 2 and 3 of the Islanders’ series against the Penguins. He would quickly get up to speed, turning away the next 14 Bruin offerings in the period.
The Islanders were credited with only six shots on net, but they had a couple of golden opportunities on rebounds just skitter away. Rask also had to make a couple of very good saves, the best of which was a right pad stop on Jordan Eberle from the slot.
The B’s had the only power play of the period, but should have had another one when Leddy elbowed Sean Kuraly after a Kuraly shot. Kuraly was sprawled out in the middle of the Islander zone and would need some attention, but there was no call. After a brief trip to the dressing room, Kuraly returned to the game before the period was out.
Despite the early Bruins goal, the Isles started to establish their game midway through the first and grabbed the game by the throat with three goals in the second period. The Bruins and their star from Game 1 got them started.
One penalty the refs did not miss was a goaltender interference on David Pastrnak at 5:19 of the second period. It would have been difficult to do so. The Bruins winger, coming off a hat trick in Game 1 but yet to get a shot on net by that point, skated straight into Varlamov and was sent to the box.
Then late in what was looking like a good kill, the Isles tied it up on a fortunate bounce for them. Josh Bailey tried to make a cross-ice pass that deflected off Lauzon’s skate and between Rask’s pads to make it 1-1 at 6:59.
That was the start of a disastrous 20 minutes for the home team.
The Isles took the lead at 11:00. Leddy missed the net on a good chance from the slot but it bounced off the end boards and came right to Kyle Palmieri at the left side of the net. It had appeared Rask got back in time to protect his short side, but Palmieri kept at it and jammed it home between Rask’s pads.
Then the refs gave the fans something to gripe about. Brandon Carlo and Leo Komarov got into a pushing and shoving match after the whistle, standard stuff for a regular season game, never mind the playoffs. But Carlo was the only player sent to the box by referee Gord Dwyer and the Isles capitalized.
Anthony Beauvillier sent a deft pass through the crease to Jean-Gabriel Pageau and he buried it into the vacant net at 17:21.
That gave the Isles a two-goal lead going into the third period with Varlamov looking a lot like the Vezina candidate he’d been all year.