BOSTON -- There was plenty to like for the Islanders last night, but those good things were overshadowed by a tough 2-1 loss to the Bruins and a sudden rash of injuries as the Isles headed to Buffalo for a back-to-back Sunday.
Saturday night's game, decided on Loui Eriksson's rebound goal from in close with 7:34 to play, sent the Islanders to their fourth loss in five games. Chad Johnson played his best game in net in months, stopping 34 shots, and the Islanders had 40 shots on goal against Tuukka Rask but could not break through aside from John Tavares' power-play goal at 9:06 of the first period.
"We played a really decent road game against a good team," Anders Lee said. "Chad was great, we were solid. We just couldn't get that next goal."
And the Isles bench in the closing minutes looked like a poorly-attended beer league lineup. Cal Clutterbuck was injured in the first period, came back for the second for a few shifts but ultimately left the game after two periods with an upper-body injury.
Michael Grabner missed part of the second period with an undisclosed injury and Calvin de Haan had to depart with a scary skate cut in the third when two Bruins collided right in front of him. One of their skates caught de Haan near his eye.
That injury occurred with the score still tied 1-1, but not for very much longer. The Bruins controlled the puck in the neutral zone, got into the Islanders zone with speed and drove the net looking for paydirt.
Johnson turned aside Carl Soderberg's initial shot, plus Eriksson's first jam attempt on the rebound. Matt Martin had good body position on Eriksson but lost his footing and Eriksson swept a backhand under Johnson for the lead.
"One little break and that was it," said Johnny Boychuk, who unleashed one of his big slap shots in the closing seconds with the Isles net empty only to have Chris Kelly block it. Boychuk led the Isles with eight shots on goal.
"We did a lot of good things," Boychuk said.
Even with 40 shots on goal, 19 from their defensemen, the Islanders still were a little too pass-heavy at times. Ryan Strome, part of an effective second power-play unit, passed up a couple good looks to Rask's right on a second-period power play and Strome and Mikhail Grabovski, who were both engaged and skating well all night, overdid the passing on a couple of speed rushes.
Strome showed he was indeed ready to go when he dropped the gloves with fellow non-pugilist Torey Krug just 1:53 into the game, a decent fight for a couple of smallish young guys.
"It's a big game against a top team, he was just getting into it," Capuano said of Strome.
The fact that Johnson, who has won only once in is last six starts dating to Nov. 21, faced a lot of shots early was helpful because he had his best outing in months.
"To get a couple games in a week's time definitely helps with timing and those things," said Johnson, who lost in Detroit seven days earlier. "I definitely had some bad bounces my last few games, some weird goals that hurt me. There were no bad bounces tonight and I was definitely into it right away."
Jaroslav Halak will get the call Sunday in Buffalo for sure. With a few injuries to sort out before a 5 p.m. start, not much else is assured, other than this:
The Islanders need to score more goals and play a similar game like they did Saturday night.