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BOSTON — The notion that the Islanders are always in every game, no matter how outplayed they are, was truly put to the test.
As the Bruins commanded every area of the ice for 60 minutes, the Islanders still found a way to pull out a 5-4 win in a swing Game 5 on Monday night at TD Garden. Behind an unusually effective power play, which was 3-for-4, the Isles set themselves up to clinch heading back to Nassau Coliseum for Game 6 on Wednesday night.
The Islanders were walloped every which way — along the boards, in the neutral zone and were hammered into their own end for a good portion of the game. Though, as they have many times before, the Isles bent but didn’t break and made it work.
Boston nearly got the Islanders to crack, when the Bruins turned a three-goal deficit into one with 5:17 left in regulation. After David Pastrnak scored his second goal of the night, which came on the power play, David Krejci stuffed another one in to keep the Bruins’ hopes alive.
But the Islanders refused to buckle and fended off a late push.
The power play has been a hindrance all season, but the Islanders made it their strong suit when they needed it most. Their three man-advantage tallies marked the first time since the team scored four in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs on April 23, 2002.
Josh Bailey potted the go-ahead goal at 14:30 of the second period to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead. That proved to be the first of three straight tallies to pad the lead.
The Bruins pulled goalie Tuukka Rask, going with rookie Jeremy Swayman to start the third period.
After Mathew Barzal’s power-play goal at the end of the first period evened the score 1-1, the Islanders earned another man-advantage opportunity less than three minutes into the middle frame. Bailey sent a saucer pass through Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton’s skates, to Kyle Palmieri at the far left post for the easy tap-in and the Isles’ first lead of the night.
The Bruins continued to dictate play in every area of the ice, and Brad Marchand’s individual effort tied the game once again at 7:27 of the second. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov had to come up with some big stops on Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall, while defenseman Scott Mayfield made a save of his own, blocking a backdoor chance from Charlie Coyle.
By some hockey miracle, the Islanders escaped the first period tied. Boston repeatedly hammered the Isles into their own zone and smothered them through the first 20 minutes.
On the Bruins’ third shot on goal, which came less than 1 ½ minutes into the game, Pastrnak’s one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle whizzed past Varlamov, who was screened by defenseman Nick Leddy. Brad Marchand nearly doubled the score right after, as the Bruins continued to hound the Islanders, sending a shot from in tight angle that danced along the goal line but did not go in.
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