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Friday, December 10, 2010

Bruins squeak one out over hopeless Islanders

Is there a more irrelevant franchise in the big four pro sports than the New York Islanders? When you take out pointless expansion teams, I'd say the Isles are on the short list of that painful group.

As I predicted two days ago, last night was the optimal time to get two points (check) and give Tuukka Rask some real ice time (check).

The 5-2 win for the Boston Bruins (16-8-3) at the TD Garden looks good on paper but in truth, it was much uglier than that since the Bs had two empty-net goals.

It was a weird game, Boston had two power-play goals, a short-handed goal and the two empty-netters.

I guess it's only fitting that New York (5-16-15) also has one of the worst contracts of all-time in the NHL for Winthrop native Rick DiPietro hanging around Strong Island like an albatross (thanks English classes in college).

In case you forgot how bad DiPietro (32 saves) is (when he can actually get on the ice), he gifted Brad Marchand a short-handed goal at 14:40 of the second period. DiPietro cleared it right to Marchand, who just had to corral the puck behind the net and stuff it in. That gave Boston a 2-1 advantage that they would not lose.

It was Marchand's fourth goal of the season, his third short-handed tally of the year (tying him for the NHL lead).

Milan Lucic had given the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first period with a power-play goal at 14:00 from Marc Savard. The face-off win by Savard allowed Looch to take a quick shot that hit the post, DiPietro's skate then slid in.

The Islanders tied it at 1 early in the second period when Patrice Bergeron (on a power-play) tripped Frans Nielsen on a breakaway. Nielsen was awarded a penalty shot and tucked it behind Rask (33 saves) with a nifty backhander.

Michael Ryder gave Boston some breathing room with a power-play goal at 14:16 of the third period from Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara. Ference hit a slap pass that Ryder perfectly deflected into the net, his eighth of the season.

New York made it interesting as Rob Schremp poked it in after some traffic in front of Rask at 16:27. Travis Hamonic and Zenon Konopka assisted on that one.

From there, the Islanders pulled DiPietro and Lucic (15th of the season, 4th empty-netter) from Johnny Boychuk and Patrice Bergeron (4th of the season) from David Krejci and Zdeno Chara put it away.

Two more fights for the Bruins as Adam McQuaid squared off with Konopka in the first period and Shawn Thornton traded blows with Trevor Gillies. Also, rookie defenseman Steven Kampfer made his NHL debut with Mark Stuart shelved for 4-6 weeks (broken finger). Kampfer seemed like a carbon copy of Matt Hunwick, undersized, right-handed puck-moving defenseman. All in all, a solid start for him with the big team.

Boston will have to play much better tomorrow night though, expect Tim Thomas in net, as the Philadelphia Flyers come to town. They faced off in Philly last week (with the Bruins winning) but this will be their first time in Boston since last spring when you know what happened.

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