UNIONDALE, N.Y. — John Tavares, Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek scored second-period goals, and Kevin Poulin made 26 saves for his first win of the season as the New York Islanders beat the Bruins 3-1 on Saturday night.
Tavares knocked a loose puck past Bruins backup goalie Chad Johnson at 6:15 of the second for his sixth goal of the season. The assist went to his new left wing Vanek, who was acquired from Buffalo last week.
After MacDonald scored his first of the season at 13:13 to make it 2-0, and Boston's Dougie Hamilton answered two minutes later, Vanek scored his first with the Islanders — one-timing a perfect cross-ice pass from Kyle Okposo past Johnson from the left circle at 16:08.
Okposo and defenseman Travis Hamonic assisted on MacDonald and Vanek's goals.
Vanek's goal was the 255th of his NHL career and his 500th point. The 29-year-old winger also assisted on Tavares' goal.
Talking points from CSNNE Bruins insider Joe Haggerty:
GOLD STAR: Noted Bruins killer Thomas Vanek finished with a goal and an assist, a plus-3 rating and six shot attempts in 19:26 of ice time while he teamed with John Tavares to keep the B’s defense on their heels. That added to Vanek’s impressive body of work against the Bruins: 30 goals and 29 assists in 51 games against the Black and Gold. Those are the best career numbers against any NHL team. It was his quick actions to strip David Krejci of a puck in front of the Boston net that led to the Isles’ first goal, and started the downhill ball rolling against the Bruins. Then he buried a 2-on-1 for New York’s insurance goal as well. No answer from the Black and Gold for Vanek, once again.
BLACK EYE: Tough night for the Dougie Hamilton/Zdeno Chara pairing in a challenge against a top forward line with Thomas Vanek and John Tavares. They were on the ice for two goals against, and Hamilton had some good (the B’s only goal on the power play) and some very bad (three giveaways, a bad pinch on Vanek’s insurance goal and too many costly mistakes) throughout Boston’s evening. Chara looked like he was paying the price for playing almost 30 minutes on Thursday night as well. That added up to a bad night for the Black and Gold while losing the key match-up in the game.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins seemed to get a measure of momentum in the second period when a Hamilton centering pass bounced off Frans Nielsen, and into the back of the net. But 41 seconds later an ill-timed Hamilton pinch turned into a 2-on-1 for the Islanders, and Kyle Okposo fed to Vanek for a shot that Johnson had no shot of stopping. That made it a 3-1 lead for the Islanders, and essentially crushed any hopes for Boston to come back in the game. It’s also a sign of a team that’s not properly focused in right now.
HONORABLE MENTION: He wasn’t perfect, but Islanders netminder Kevin Poulin came out with a win he was desperately in need of after an 0-2 start to his season as Evgeni Nabokov’s backup this season. Poulin made 25 saves in the win while improving on the .881 save percentage he had entering Saturday night, but also saw B’s players Zdeno Chara, Ryan Spooner and David Krejci all miss wide open shots from the slot in the final 20 minutes of the contest.
BY THE NUMBERS: 59 – the number of career points for Thomas Vanek in 51 games against the Bruins in his role as B’s killer.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “They brought some momentum, and we brought none. It’s as simple as that. We didn’t play well enough. We need to be better than that. I think a lot of it is based on effort, and ours wasn’t good enough. We don’t compete hard enough, and you saw a team on the other side that was competing hard.” –Bruins coach Claude Julien on the NESN postgame, clearly not close to happy with a subpar work ethic in Boston’s 3-1 loss to the Islanders.