BOSTON, MA – After fighting back from multiple deficits, the Boston Bruins tasted defeat for the first time on Wednesday evening, falling 4-3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. On Friday, the B’s were back within the friendly confines of the TD Garden with a match-up against the New York Islanders on tap. Fortunately for the 17, 565 fans that packed into the arena for yet another sellout, the home-standing Bruins were able to take care of business in a 4-2 win over the Islanders.
It didn’t take long for the Bruins to push the first one past a rusty goaltender who hadn’t seen NHL action in over a year. Winthrop, MA native Rick DiPietro was in goal for the Islanders on Friday, making his first start at hockey’s highest level since December of 2011. On just their second shot of the night, Boston fourth-liner Shawn Thornton was able to knock it into the net after rookie blueliner Dougie Hamilton had made a play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
In what can definitely be considered a rare sight around here, Boston’s top defense pair of Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk were beat by a great passing play from Isles’ forward Colin McDonald later in the period as he set up Keith Aucoin (Chelmsford, MA) all alone in front of Tuukka Rask for a goal.
Near the midpoint of the game’s second period, the local kid would burn the B’s again as Aucoin would corral a loose puck in the Boston zone and rip a slapshot right past Rask and into the top-shelf for a 2-1 Isles’ lead. As an NHL journeyman, the hard-working kid from the Norwich University has seen stops in countless hockey cities across North America. However, having the chance to come back home and succeed against the team he grew up rooting for is undoubtedly the thrill of a lifetime for Aucoin.
“Whenever you play at the Garden, the hometown team you grew up watching, and cheering for, and to be able to play in front of 40 people here, it’s always fun to come back and play.” – Keith Aucoin
For the Islanders, another pair of goals from the third line was crucial to keeping the team in the game on a night when every member of the top-six was held off the score sheet. Both head coach Jack Capuano and tonight’s goal scorer Keith Aucoin know that offensive depth and secondary scoring will be a huge key to success for the Islanders as they move forward this season.
“Any successful team, especially when you’re on the road and you’re going to see the matchups that the home team wants, the other lines have to contribute and for the last little while here, the (Keith) Aucoin line has been pretty good for us.” – Jack Capuano
“That’s why they have us in the lineup; they need secondary scoring. You can’t count on the top two lines to do it every night, and we have good chemistry going right now, so hopefully we continue to do that. We can’t take a night off, we have to go out there every night and do the same thing.” – Keith Aucoin
At the 13:42 mark of the second period, Boston would pull even at two when the energy unit came through with its second goal of the evening. Centerman Gregory Campbell would be the goal scorer, finding himself alone in front of DiPietro to push home a loose puck.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara would be the man to break the tie at the 7:07 mark of the third and final period after receiving a beautiful behind-the-net feed from top-line winger Milan Lucic.
“I’m looking for that guy right there. Like I said, he (Zdeno Chara) did a great job getting open. If you can see, he seeped down to the top of the circles there. A lot of teams now, when they overload in the defensive zone, they take away that strong side D-man. He did a great job getting open for me there where I could make that pass.” – Milan Lucic
With less than seven minutes to play in the game, Boston pivot Patrice Bergeron would cap off what was a beautifully executed break-out play with one heck of a dangle to beat DiPietro and give the Bruins an insurance goal.
Boston would keep the Isles off the board for the remainder of the game, improving their season record to 3-0-1 with their third consecutive home-ice victory.
Stat of the Night: With tonight’s victory, Boston head coach Claude Julien has tied Don Cherry for third on the team’s all-time coaching wins list with 231. Coach Julien will take his first crack at passing Cherry when the B’s take to the ice in Raleigh against the Hurricanes on Monday.
Ben’s Three Stars:
2) Keith Aucoin (2 Goals/2 Shots)
3) Milan Lucic (1 Assist/4 Hits)
Next Game: Monday January 28, 2013 – 7:00 PM – AT Carolina Hurricanes
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.