The New York Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins for the fourth time this season via a gorgeous shootout winner by Anthony Beauvillier. The win was the Islanders’ first outside of regulation in 2020-21, and it extended their winning streak to six games.
Here are three takeaways from the win.
1. The Islanders Failed to Contain the Bergeron Line
One of the recurring themes of previous games between the Islanders and Bruins was Barry Trotz’s reliance on the Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas lines to keep the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron line in check.
He stuck with that formula for Tuesday’s matchup, because if it isn’t broken you don’t fix it, right? Well, that’s sound enough reasoning, but the Bergeron line finally got the better of their Islanders opposition.
In terms of shots and possession, Bergeron and Co. out-attempted their opposition 13-0 when head-to-head at 5v5. That means the Bruins’ top line also dominated the xG department. After 40 minutes they had .52 xG vs the Islanders 0. That is probably best illustrated by the 5-1 Bruins high danger chances share.
The third period was decidedly low-event, and the Bruins played very conservatively due to the banged up defense corps they sported in Tuesday’s game. Even then, the Bergeron line matched their Islanders opposition 5-5 in total shot attempts. The Islanders got the slight edge in unblocked attempts, 3-2. Like I said, low-event.
Prior to the game, I tweeted a series of head-to-head stats featuring the Islanders and Bruins. The numbers said the Islanders have largely been a better team at 5v5, as they lead in most 5v5 categories with exception of some play-driving stats like Corsi and Fenwick. So, just to make me look foolish, of course the Bruins largely had the better of play at 5v5 on Tuesday.
The Bergeron line played a crucial role in that Bruins 5v5 play on Tuesday. Any time you can limit your opposition to no shot attempts against you through 40 minutes, and only five total attempts throughout regulation, you’re driving play very well.
It isn’t often that the Islanders are outdone at 5v5. They’ve been a very good team in that game state throughout Barry Trotz’s tenure. It also isn’t often that Islanders defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are contained in their own zone so thoroughly in a game.
Fortunately, the Islanders weren’t burned by the Bruins at 5v5 on Tuesday. They bent but didn’t break, as the saying goes, and crucially, were able to match the Bruins in special teams play.