Greiss, Isle ice Bruins for shutout
BOSTON — The TD Garden message board posted a “Fun Fact” in the first period of Monday’s game, telling the crowd the New York Islanders had never shut out the Bruins in Boston.
Thomas Greiss stopped 32 shots for his first shutout of the season, and Nikolay Kulemin scored twice in a three-goal second-period outburst to lead the Isles to a 4-0 victory over the lethargic Bruins.
It was New York’s 87th game, counting playoffs, in the old Boston Garden and the “new” building that opened in 1995 — and the franchise’s first shutout at that site.
It was also the Islanders’ first shutout of the Bruins since Rick DiPietro did it back in 2004 on Long Island.
Greiss, pulled from his last start Saturday night at Carolina, turned in his second strong performance in Boston this season. He has stopped 80 of 82 shots on Boston’s home ice.
“So far it’s been treating me very well,” he said. “Fun games. They’re a good team. You always have to respect them. They come at you very hard.”
While Greiss, the Islanders’ new No. 1 goaltender with Jaroslav Halak banished to the minors, has stifled the Bruins, Tuukka Rask, his counterpart at the other end, has been yanked in both games — the only times he has been pulled (when healthy) this season.
Asked about his success in Boston, Greiss, who played four seasons with the Worcester Sharks an hour away when he was in the San Jose system, said, “Yeah, maybe a little more comfortable. But they’re a very good team. They play hard every night. You respect them and do your thing and not worry much about it.”
It was difficult to look at Monday’s Boston effort and say the Bruins played hard in this game. David Backes threw two thunderous checks in the second period, but the Islanders scored the first of three goals in a span of 5:20 on that shift.
Said Backes: “I don’t know if we wanted to just hit ‘simulate’ on the old video game today because we figured we had more points than them.”
Kulemin, scoring off a pair of passes from linemate Casey Cizikas, scored twice around a Josh Bailey goal. The goals were his first in 15 games. Jason Chimera, who assisted on Kulemin’s first goal, scored for the third straight game on a shorthanded breakaway in the third period.
Boos rained downed on the Bruins after the final siren.
“Whether it was fatigue or not I don’t know, but we were flat today,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team played its fourth game in seven days. “It’s very disappointing.”
The first three goals came against Rask (10-5-0 lifetime against the Islanders). Rask, guilty of one bad goal out of the three, was pulled after two periods in favor of Zane McIntyre, who played the third.
The Islanders became the latest last-place team to come into the TD Garden, where the Bruins are just 10-11-0, and win.
“Maybe we took them a little lightly,” said Boston’s Brad Marchand, who lost the puck at the point leading to the shorthanded goal. “We just weren’t ready (to play).”
The victory lifted the Islanders (3-3-2 in their last eight) out of the Eastern Conference cellar.
With Cal Clutterbuck out with a minor injury, Shane Prince dressed after sitting out two games and joined Kulemin and Cizikas on the fourth line. That line turning into the top unit in the second period.
After getting three shots in a defensive first period, the Islanders took advantage of Boston mistakes, including the one by Rask, for their eruption.
“I’m very happy for Kooley,” Greiss said of Kulemin, who scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season. “He works very hard every day.”
The offensively challenged Bruins had shown signs of coming out of their scoring doldrums, but Monday marked the 27th time in 47 games they scored two goals or fewer.
NOTES: Islanders D Johnny Boychuk, a former Bruin, returned after missing a game with an injury ... With both Ds Kevan Miller (concussion) and Colin Miller (lower body) out, D Joe Morrow dressed for Boston for the first time since Dec. 12. Colin Miller missed his third straight game while Kevan Miller was injured on a Jakub Voracek hit from behind Saturday.