Bruins trying to find offense entering contest with Islanders
BOSTON — The Boston Bruins, offensively challenged throughout the first half of the season, have to hope recent games are a sign they have turned the scoring corner.
Coming off a 6-3 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Boston hosts the floundering New York Islanders in a Monday matinee thinking they may be onto something scoring-wise.
“It’s nice to be rewarded for what we’ve been talking about for a long time, creating scoring chances and, for the longest of time, not being able to capitalize,” coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, sometimes you need some breaks and sometimes you line up your shot a little bit better. Things are starting to go in more.”
Article continues below ...
The Bruins, who have scored two goals or less in 26 of their 46 games, have scored 19 in their last five, and 37 in their last 12.
They have also corrected their power play woes, scoring 11 times in their last 42 chances — connecting twice Saturday.
“First of all, (we’re) not forcing plays,” said Patrice Bergeron. “That was what we talked a lot about, try to play a simple power play, put the puck on net, get some rebounds and find loose pucks in the corner and stuff like that.
“I think we’ve been battling a lot better, finding those pucks and not having to chase or skate all the way down twice which helps a lot. We’re doing a lot more of that, being smarter and simpler in our game. That’s been paying off.”
Bergeron, whose scoring has also been off, has eight points in his last nine games, while linemate Brad Marchand had his second five-point game of the season Saturday.
While the offense is looking up, the defense is shorthanded — minus both Millers — for Monday’s game. Colin Miller should miss his third in a row with a lower-body injury while Kevan Miller is in concussion protocol after a hit from behind by Jakub Voracek Saturday.
The Islanders (16-17-8) are making their second visit to TD Garden in less than a month. Back on Dec. 20, Tomas Greiss made 48 saves and the Isles won 4-2, as Anders Lee scored twice.
But this has been a season of losing for the team from Brooklyn, which comes in Monday in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders have gone 3-3-2 since leaving Boston, where they ended a five-game losing streak and started a three-game winning run. They have lost four of their last five games and the guy who used to be their No. 1 goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, is in the minors.
They have scored nine goals in the last two games, five of them by captain John Tavares, but lost 7-4 in Carolina on Saturday night.
“We generated opportunities and we had some good momentum at times and obviously had a 3-1 lead,” Tavares said. “We were just too spotty, allowed them to get back in the game and take over in the third.”
Tuukka Rask, who left Thursday night’s game in Nashville after getting hit in the throat with a shot, played and won for the Bruins on Saturday and is 10-4-0 with a 2.29 goals against average and .930 save percentage lifetime against the Islanders.
Greiss, who has played the last six games for the Islanders, is 1-2 against the Bruins while backup J.F. Berube is 2-0-2 against Boston.
Saturday’s win got the Bruins (23-18-5) up to 10-10-0 at home, while the Islanders fell to 5-9-4 on the road, where they are tied for the league’s lowest road win total.