Bruins

With 3 starting defensemen sidelined, how did Bruins put together best defensive effort of season?

(Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Were there a few faults for Bruce Cassidy to sort through following the Bruins’ 5-0 win over the Islanders on Tuesday? Sure, as there are in every game. There was some “rust” for David Pastrnak in what was his first taste of game action in five weeks. A couple of third-period lapses in the neutral zone. And … well, that was about it for Boston’s bench boss when it came to his club’s shortcomings at Nassau Coliseum.

“Yeah, probably,” Cassidy said when asked if this was the team’s most dominant win in quite some time. “In terms of possession and the worry meter for the coach. … We never really got away from it. I think in the third, there were a couple of plays where we were a little soft through the neutral zone, they knocked down. But that was for a shift or two and our guys, right away, sort of said, ‘Hey, let’s get back to crisp, hard plays.’ It was good.

"I don’t know, you’re always concerned, do they just not have it tonight? Or was it just us with great legs and great determination and decision-making. It’s probably a little bit of both. But I can only judge us, and I loved the way we played.”

Things weren’t so peachy just a week ago, as the Bruins was forced to lick their wounds going into last weekend after an 0-3-0 showing during their previous road trip — with the third-ranked D corps in the entire NHL (2.49 GA/G) tagged for 15 goals.

Since then?

Just 17 5v5 scoring chances generated by the Blue Jackets — the team that scored seven goals against Boston days earlier — in what was a 2-1 overtime victory for the Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday.

And on Tuesday against an Islanders club jockeying for first place in the Metropolitan Division? Just two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of regulation — and 14 total 5v5 scoring chances generated in the 5-0 contest.

By the end of the night, Boston had managed to pepper Robin Lehner in net with 39 shots on goal — all while limiting the Islanders to a season-low 13 shots. Of those shots that managed to find their way toward Tuukka Rask, eight were fired from low-danger areas along the blue line, with just four of New York’s 14 scoring chances tabbed as “high-danger” looks in the offensive zone.

So how then, did a Bruins team missing three regular defensemen in Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller still manage to put together it's best defensive outing of the year against a playoff-bound Islanders group?