Barzal, Dobson lead Islanders to 4-1 victory against Bruins
Noah Dobson and Mathew Barzal each scored and had an assist, helping the New York Islanders snap a three-game skid with a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves, Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored, and the Islanders kicked off a two-game homestand with a victory after a disappointing four-game road trip (1-3-0). Brock Nelson also added an empty-net goal and an assist.
"It was playoff game for us," Barzal said. "We knew tonight was huge after dropping one in Buffalo and where we are at in the standings. Obviously, we know who we are chasing. That was a big win for us and felt for the most part we played championship-caliber hockey. .
"We really think that we can pull it together and string some wins together and make a push."
Taylor Hall scored the Bruins' lone goal and Linus Ullmark made 25 saves, but Boston fell for the fourth time in five games (1-3-1).
Dobson notched the go-ahead goal when his wrist shot from the point banked off the post, then Ullmark's leg and into the back of the net at 5:50 of the third period. Anthony Beauvillier and two Bruins defenders were stationed at the top of the crease and prevented Ullmark from tracking the puck. Nelson registered an assist on the play.
"That's the way we need to play in those tight games," Dobson said. "We've got to find a way to get a big goal, then lock it down when we need to. It was a good effort in the third, for sure."
Barzal extended the Islanders' lead to 3-1 by burying a rebound at 13:32 of the third period. Kieffer Bellows fired a hard and low wrist shot to force a scramble in front that Barzal was able to take advantage of as he registered his 12th goal.
The goal followed an impressive Islanders penalty kill after Cal Clutterbuck took an ill-advised offensive zone penalty that could have shifted momentum in the Bruins' favor.
"They did all the things they typically do when they are on," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Islanders. "We did have a chance on the power play - it let us down tonight. It would have been a timely goal for us, but it didn't happen."
Boston captain Patrice Bergeron returned to the lineup after missing three games with a head injury.
Pageau notched his seventh of the season to even the score at one 11:30 into the middle frame. While on the power play, Barzal drew the attention of the Bruins defense and left a drop pass for Dobson, who blasted a slap shot on net. Pageau alertly found and buried the loose puck.
Following the equalizer, Sorokin made back-to-back saves on Brandon Carlo and Hall to keep the game tied at 1.
Hall opened the scoring with a sharp-angled wrist shot at 17:26 of the first period. The veteran forward flew past Casey Cizikas and squeezed the puck through a small opening on the short side to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Craig Smith and Mike Reilly assisted.
"I don't care what their record is, they are such a hard team to play against," Hall said of the Islanders. "When they are on, when they have four lines going like they did tonight, it's a tough matchup."
Nelson capped the scoring with 1:13 left.
"We had some firmness on our forecheck," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "We didn't give them easy exits, we had good gaps. We forced them to earn every inch on the ice, that's a good Islanders game from us."
Islanders forward Josh Bailey missed the game and is considered day to day with an upper-body injury.
MOVING ON UP
Zdeno Chara skated in his 1,649th career game and is two from surpassing Chris Chelios on the NHL's list for defensemen.
TOP OF THEIR CLASS
The Bruins have 11 first-round draft picks on the current roster: Hall, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Nick Foligno, Derek Forbert, Trent Frederic, Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril.
Trotz was behind the bench for his 250th game with the Islanders. He became the third coach in franchise history to reach that milestone, joining Jack Capuano (483) and Al Arbour (1,500).
Bruins: Visit the Ottawa Senators Saturday night, concluding a four-game road trip.
Islanders: Host the Montreal Canadiens and interim coach Martin St. Louis on Sunday.