For your sake, I hope you had better things to do on Saturday night than watch Bruins-Islanders, which turned out to be a terrible game featuring a battle of backup goaltenders: Kevin Poulin (26 saves) vs. Chad Johnson (31 saves). Facing New York (6-5-3), which had played in Ottawa last night, Boston (8-5-0) for some reason wasn’t the fresher team as it fell, 3-1, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It was Boston’s third loss in its last four games.
Islanders captain John Tavares, one of the best players in the NHL, put his team ahead 1-0 in the second period after knocking the puck out of mid-air on a rebound. New York doubled their lead as defenseman Andrew MacDonald’s long-range blast from the point found its way through traffic past Johnson. The Bruins took advantage of their first power play as Dougie Hamilton’s attempted centering pass for Carl Soderberg deflected in the net off an Islander. Longtime Bruins killer Thomas Vanek scored a backbreaking goal 41 seconds after Hamilton thanks to a 2-on-1 (New York had at least three of those in the second period alone). It was the first goal as an Islander for the former Sabre. How happy was he to get out of Buffalo?
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Boston had some chances in the third period to cut it to 3-2 but the B's couldn’t beat Poulin. They pulled Johnson late and called a timeout but the Islanders never scored an empty-net goal. That’s about the only thing that didn’t go right for the home team, it was a very forgettable night for the Bruins. The good news for Boston is that they begin a season-high five-game homestand on Tuesday (7, NESN) vs. Dallas-Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley’s first game against their former team.
What they'll be saying: Johnny Boychuk didn’t make the trip to Long Island (lucky him) but his team really missed his steadying, physical presence. Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton were both -2 while Matt Bartkowski (3 blocked shots, 4 hits) was a lone bright spot for Boston’s defensemen; he played well for his first game in over two weeks (healthy scratch for five straight games). It’s hard to say what the Bruins have in Johnson since he’s only appeared in two games: a 5-2 win over the Sabres (the NHL’s worst team) where he only had to make 14 saves and tonight when many of his teammates forgot to show up in a winnable contest. The B’s were outshot in the first and second period but finally started to find their legs in the third period, the problem was that they were already down 3-1. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone with as much offensive success against Boston as Thomas Vanek: with tonight’s goal and assist, he now has 30 goals and 29 assists in 51 career games vs. the Bruins. It makes you wonder why they’ve never made much of a push to acquire him?
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate