BOSTON (AP) — Taylor Hall scored his first goal for Boston and Tuukka Rask stopped 22 shots to earn his 300th career victory — and his first since February — as the Bruins dominated the New York Islanders and won 4-1 on Thursday night.
Rask had played just once since March 7 because of a back injury. His teammates gave him an easy one, outshooting the Islanders 45-23 — including a 23-7 first period — and getting two goals from Brad Marchand and one from Craig Smith to win their second straight game.
“He looked rock solid,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We didn’t give him a heavy workload, but he was there when we needed him, and good for him.”
Travis Zajac scored his first goal for New York, and Semyon Varlamov made 41 saves. The Islanders had won five of their previous six games, and trail the first-place Washington Capitals by two points in the East Division.
Boston, which won the 2020 Presidents Trophy after the pandemic-shortened season, solidified its hold on the fourth and final playoff berth in the East, remaining four points ahead of the fifth-place Rangers.
The teams meet again in Boston on Friday night.
Rask, who has played his entire 14-year career in Boston, moved into 36th on the NHL’s career victory list, tied with Tomas Vokoun, one behind Mike Richter and three in back of Olaf Kolzig.
“It’s a great milestone. It’s one of those that once you’re done playing, it’s something to be proud of. It’s going to be a nice memory,” said the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner, who has played in only 16 of the team’s 41 games this season. “Hopefully I can get a couple more, and pass them I guess.”
Hall was acquired from the Sabres at the trade deadline early Monday morning, drove to Boston that day and made his Bruins debut on Tuesday night in a 3-2, shootout win over his former team. The 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick scored on a third-period breakaway, sprung by David Pastrnak, to make it 3-1.
“That’s what he’s here for, to help us win a game, do your job,” Cassidy said. “And he did.”
Marchand added an empty netter in the final two minutes.
Boston took a 1-0 lead when Mike Reilly, who was also acquired at the trade deadline, flipped the puck in from the blue line. Patrice Bergeron chopped at it and the bouncing puck deflected off Marchand’s back and into the netting before coming right back out.
Play continued for 10 seconds before a whistle that allowed replay to award the Bruins the goal.
“Really had no passengers tonight,” Cassidy said. “That’s what you’re looking for.”
Boston made it 2-0 when Smith scored during a dominant power play while Brock Nelson was off for a high sticking double-minor.
The Islanders made it a one-goal game when Mathew Barzal won a battle for the puck behind the net and spun it around to Zajac, acquired from New Jersey along with Kyle Palmieri at the deadline, in the slot. It was just New York’s ninth shot of the game to 24 for the Bruins.
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