BOSTON – Despite falling behind by two after a pair of goals 25 seconds apart midway through the second period, the New York Islanders were confident they would have plenty of time and opportunities to rally against the Boston Bruins.
The chances were plentiful, and many came courtesy of the Bruins, whose usually strong penalty kill unraveled. The Islanders capitalized on repeated penalties and came from behind for a 5-3 win on Tuesday night.
John Tavares and Frans Nielsen scored a pair of goals each and Kyle Okposo had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, who netted four unanswered goals in the final 23:30.
“Even though we didn’t have a great start, we just stuck with it. Being down by a goal on the road isn’t always the worst thing in the world,” said Tavares, whose goal 32 seconds into the third period gave New York its first lead.
Once they got ahead, the Islanders never let the Bruins back into the game.
“It seemed like we started to get our legs going and obviously, the power play,” Tavares said. “It’s good to see it come through in a big way.”
Tavares’ goal early in the third was the only one the Islanders scored with both teams at full strength. The other four came on power plays against the Bruins, who entered with the third-best penalty kill in the NHL.
Thomas Vanek had a pair of assists, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 31 shots for the Islanders.
“We didn’t force anything,” Okposo said. “Then when they were tired, I thought we capitalized on making some opportunities.”
Boston coach Claude Julien disputed several of the penalties that led to New York’s eight power plays, but he didn’t excuse the Bruins’ poor penalty killing and discipline.
“Some of those penalties are penalties that ended up hurting us a lot down the road, so we have to take ownership of that,” Julien said.
The Bruins appeared to be in command after Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara scored 25 seconds apart to put Boston up 3-1 midway through the second period.
The momentum dissolved quickly as Boston spent most of the final four minutes trying to kill penalties.
“They scored that third goal a little bit too quick for my liking, and I thought they grabbed the momentum,” Nabokov said. “But we didn’t put our heads down and we found a way back in the same period. I thought it was huge.”
Okposo’s power-play goal with three seconds left in the second period tied it 3-3. Tavares gave New York its first lead with a tough-angle wrist shot 32 seconds into the third.
Nielsen started the comeback on a one-timer from the slot with 3:30 left in the second to pull New York within 3-2, scoring his second power-play goal of the game.
The Bruins were back at full-strength for all of three seconds before the Islanders went right back on the power play when Milan Lucic was called for cross-checking during the faceoff.
Boston killed that penalty, but gave New York another opportunity when a clearing attempt by goalie Tuukka Rask went over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty with 41 seconds left in the period.
Okposo’s wrist shot just seconds before the horn sent the game into the third tied 3-3. Tavares sealed the win later in the period.
“We knew they had a good power play and we didn’t do a good job on the PK,” Bergeron said. “We can give them credit but still, we could’ve played a lot better.”
Bergeron’s power-play goal with 7:27 left in the second gave Boston a 2-1 lead, which Chara added to 25 seconds later with a slap shot from the point. It was the 10th goal of the season for both Boston veterans.
Nielsen tied it with a power-play goal 5:56 into the second on a one-timer from the top of the right circle off a crossing pass from Tavares. The goal came just 24 seconds after Matt Bartkowski was called for holding.
David Krejci broke a scoreless tie 5:25 in for his 100th NHL goal, scoring off a rebound of a shot by Jarome Iginla.
NOTES: The Islanders finished 4-for-8 on the power play. … Okposo, who assisted on Nielsen’s first goal, extended his point streak to seven games. … Reilly Smith assisted on Bergeron’s goal, giving him 17 for the season. … Chara returned after missing one game with an undisclosed injury.