Costly call ends Islanders’ points streak
Eight-game run halted in hard-fought 3-1 loss at Boston
In a showdown between two of the stingiest teams in the NHL, the Boston Bruins bested the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders, thanks in large part to a single inch.
A video review of an apparent third-period, go-ahead goal by Cal Clutterbuck went in Boston’s favor Tuesday night, offsetting what would have been the Islanders’ only lead of the night in a hard-fought but ultimately unsatisfying 3-1 loss to the Bruins in front of a sellout crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.
After Boston’s Patrice Bergeron celebrated his 1,000th game in a Bruins uniform by opening the scoring at 2:52 of the second period, the Isles got even when Jordan Eberle’s nifty wrister beat Boston netminder Tuukka Rask with 3:20 remaining in the stanza.
The Isles’ first power-play goal in four contests appeared to give head coach Barry Trotz’ red-hot team a lift entering the third period.
Clutterbuck put New York in front about 4 1/2 minutes into the period, but rookie defenseman Devon Toews was an inch past the Boston blueline ahead of the puck, forcing the officials to negate the tally and shifting momentum back in the Bruins’ favor.
Peter Cehlarik delivered what proved to be the game-winner less than two minutes later, barely beating a sprawled-out Robin Lehner for a 2-1 advantage.
Bergeron added an empty netter in the final minute of regulation to give Boston its sixth consecutive win over the Isles, halting New York’s 6-0-2 run since a 2-1 regulation loss to the arch rival New York Rangers on Jan. 12.
“It’s a game of inches,” Trotz lamented during his post-game presser.
“If you’re one inch on the blue line there, that’s probably defining. We didn’t take advantage of that extra inch. We got a goal called back, and we turned the puck over and they got their second goal,” he said.
The Isles, who lead the NHL with 2.37 goals allowed per contest after ranking dead last on the 31-team circuit in that category a season ago, maintained a two-point lead over defending Stanley Cup champion Washington in the Metro race and still hold a game in hand over the Capitals.
But Boston, which is tied for third overall in goals allowed at 2.55, defended its net better on a night Beantown fans watched Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman spike the puck for the opening faceoff before Bergeron celebrated his milestone game in style.
“We had a couple good looks and Tuukka made some good saves,” Eberle said after notching his 12th goal of the season and fifth in his last 13 contests.
“They’re a good team over there. They don’t give you much. We definitely had our opportunities, though.”
The Isles went 1-for-5 with the man advantage while keeping Boston off the board on three power-play chances.
Lehner, who is 12-2-1 in his last 15 starts and leads the league in goals-against average at a minuscule 2.02, found himself on his stomach after making spectacular saves on each of Boston’s first two tallies, only to watch the puck slide past him and into the net off a rebound.
“The second goal was the turning point,” Trotz noted, citing the shift in momentum that the reversal created.
“Now we’re chasing against a very good team that defends really well.”
The crowd, which was probably still recovering from the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl parade earlier in the day, was in full throat the rest of the night as soon as the officials wiped away Clutterbuck’s goal.
“It’s tough in a road setting. You could see their crowd really responded to that,” Isles captain Anders Lee admitted.
“It’s almost like a goal against. I thought we responded just fine, but we just weren’t able to tie it up in the end.”
New York will try to return to the win column Thursday night in New Jersey.
The NBA announced on Tuesday night that Nets sharp shooter extraordinaire Joe Harris will be among the participants in this year’s All-Star 3-point contest in Charlotte on Feb. 16.
Harris, who currently ranks fourth in the league with a 45 percent shooting average from long range, becomes the fourth Nets player headed to All-Star weekend, joining first-time All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell and Rising Stars participants Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen.
The 27-year-old forward, who sat out Monday’s loss to Milwaukee with a sore hip, will be ready to test his shooting skills against the likes of Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, defending champion Devin Booker, Dirk Nowitzki, Kemba Walker, Buddy Hield and Khris Middleton.
Harris will be the fourth Nets player to ever compete in the 3-point shootout, joining Joe Johnson (2014), Anthony Morrow (2012) and the legendary Drazen Petrovic (1992).
The Washington native ranks sixth all-time among active NBA players in career 3-point percentage at 42 percent.
The Nets are scheduled to be back in action at the Barclays Center Wednesday night as they try to end a three-game losing streak against the surprising Denver Nuggets, who are one-half game behind the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference.
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