UNIONDALE, NY (AP) — The Boston Bruins are winning this season in every manner possible. Against the Islanders for a Long Island matinee, it was the goaltending of Tukka Rask and the offensive prowess of Charlie McAvoy.
McAvoy had a goal and two assists and Rask made 25 saves as the Boston Bruins routed the New York Islanders 4-0 on Saturday. The league-best Bruins improved to 41-13-12 for 94 points. The Islanders lost their third straight following a two-game winning streak.
David Pastrnak opened the scoring at 4:30 of the first period, beating Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov with his league-leading 47th goal of the season. Defensemen Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo assisted. Matt Grzelcyk made it 2-0 at 13:10 with his third goal, assisted by Brad Marchand and McAvoy.
Marchand scored at 11:06 of the third to make it 3-0 – his 27th goal – with assists to Bergeron and McAvoy.
“I’m happy when we win. It’s nice to score but we want to win. That’s what we play the game for,” said Marchand, who leads the Bruins with 56 assists. .
McAvoy, a native of nearby Long Beach, then scored his fourth goal this season on a blast from the point make it 4-0 at 16:26, bring loud cheers from Bruins fans sprinkled throughout the Nassau Coliseum crowd.
“As far as Charlie goes, that’s great,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s a Long Island boy so coming home he’s probably a little more excited to play, so good for him.”
Rask made eight saves in the first period, four in the second and 13 more in the third to secure his fourth shutout of the season. Rask improved to 24-7-6 on the campaign.
The Bruins, coming off a 4-3 home win over Dallas on Thursday, entered the contest with a dominating recent record against the Islanders. They are now 14-2-1 in their last 17 contests against the Islanders and 13-1 in their last 14 road games against New York.
The Bruins are also 7-2-0 in their last nine road games overall this season. Boston came within one game of winning the Stanley Cup last season, losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games in the Finals. They have come back with even more resolve this season behind Pastrnak and linemates Bergeron and Marchand who have combined for 228 points through 66 games.
”I thought we lost the game in the first 10 minutes,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “They executed. They are a deep team.”
The Islanders were coming off an overtime loss at St. Louis on Thursday, which followed a home overtime defeat to the Rangers last Tuesday.
Before those two defeats, they had won games back home after a disastrous four-game road losing streak in which they scored only two goals combined in the quartet of defeats.
They are now in a battle for a wild card playoff spot after spending most of the season second or third place in the tightly packed Metropolitan Division.
With five weeks remaining in the regular season, they are just ahead of Columbus, Carolina and the Rangers as those four teams compete for the final two conference playoff berths.
Trotz was encouraged despite the defeat. With the 18 games remaining, he saw no reason to be downcast.
“We’re not that far off,” he said.
OLD HOME: The Islanders will make their Long Island return a full year early, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced ahead of the game.
The team will play all home games during the 2020-21 season at the Nassau Coliseum and any home playoff dates will take place on Long Island this season and next. New York State invested $6 million to upgrade to the building’s infrastructure to ease concerns from the NHL.
“The Islanders should be on Long Island,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It was complicated more than anything because you had to deal with the NHL issues at this facility and we had to get them done, and get them done quickly. I’m overjoyed because I thought we’d have to wait for the new arena and that’s when they would come back.”
NOTES: The Islanders scratched defensemen Noah Dobson and forward Tom Kuhnhackl, Andrew Ladd, Otto Koivula, and Ross Johnston … The Bruins scratched forwards Chris Wagner, Anders Bjork and Anton Blidh plus defenseman John Moore … Before the game the Islanders retired No. 91 for Butch Goring, a member of the four-straight Stanley Cup winning teams from 1980-83 … The teams split the previous two games – the Islanders won 3-2 in a shootout in Boston on Dec. 19 and Boston won 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 11 in Brooklyn … It was only the fifth time the Islanders played on Feb. 29. Their only win came in 1984, 4-3 at Winnipeg.
Islanders: Hosting Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Bruins: Visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.