An absolute must win for both teams and based off the way they played this game the desire to win was more than usual. Islanders and Bruins are knotted up at 82 points a piece for the final wild card spot in the eastern conference. A win in regulation for either team would be huge and even a win in overtime would be enough to walk away feeling comfortably about your chances getting into the playoff. Islanders have a little easier schedule than the Bruins the rest of the way, only having to play 5 more games against a team that's above .500, meanwhile the Bruins have to play 6. This game had playoff implications and boy did it end up looking like playoff hockey with the intensity we saw for all 3 periods tonight.
The first period was an active one. John Tavares scored a goal off an assist from Brock Nelson and John Bailey to put the Islanders ahead 1-0 halfway through the first. Just 35 seconds later the Bruins would respond on an unassisted goal by Riley Nash. The score was 1-1 after the first period. The second period rolled around and both teams were playing an evenly matched game. Both teams had the same amount of shots on goal, the Bruins had a slight edge in faceoffs, although the Islanders were laying the hits on the Bruins a little more frequently. The Bruins were playing a little sloppy, 9 giveaways through two periods is not something they could've been happy about. After 2 periods the game couldn't have been more evenly matched, as both teams were going shot for shot, hit for hit, and goal for goal.
The third period was most likely going to be the 20 minutes that decided the playoff destiny for one of these teams. If the Islanders were to win they'd be in a great position to lock up the final wildcard spot and same with the Bruins. Well, early into the third Riley Nash was fed a beautiful pass from Dominic Moore that he buried in the back of the net for his second goal of the night and a 2-1 Bruins lead. Bruins were setting up to add an insurance goal when they had a power play after Andrew Ladd got 2 minutes for tripping. Bruins had a great look when David Krejci took a shot, Islanders goalie Greiss deflected it into the air, and David Backes went for the deflection but it missed wide right. Islanders were now back at full strength and looking to strike back to even up the score. at this point in the goal the Islanders offense had gone cold, not getting a shot on a goal in nearly 18 minutes. Then, the Bruins started getting into penalty trouble.
The Islanders got back to back power plays against the Bruins right after the half way point in the third period. These would be their 5th and 6th power plays of the night. Since they went 0 for 4 on the first four power plays of the night, if the Islanders didn't score off these you knew what would be the reason for this game resulting in a loss. Well, the Isles had countless shots on goal during the power play, most noticeably when Tavares got a pass while wide open on the right wing and he sent it off the crossbar. An inch in the other direction and it's tie ball game. Unfortunately, the Isles couldn't capitalize off either of the late power plays, and their playoff hopes were looking more faint by the second.
Islanders were very aggressive on the offensive end in the last few minutes of the game, obviously. They had some good looks late but the Bruins goaltender did a helluva job denying all shots on goal and the Isles couldn't execute to the degree they would've hoped to. Tavares gave it his best effort, it just wasn't enough, and the Islanders offense failed to get another goal on the board. Isles take brutal regulation loss 2-1, as the Bruins gain sole possession of the second wild card spot in the east.