The Bruins rookies showed plenty of fight, but not a whole lot else as the club's perfect record in its two-year series of prospect exhibitions against the New York Islanders has come to a crashing end.
The Bruins, who won both games at TD Garden last year in the inaugural set of rookie exhibitions between the franchises and also prevailed on Monday in Long Island, were routed 7-2 in the second game at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.
The game got off to a rocking start with three fights in the first five seconds, but only the Islanders appeared to feed off the energy from the fisticuffs. After bouts between Tyler Randell and Brett Gallant two seconds in, Conor Stokes and Benn Olson at the three-second mark and Kevan Miller and Art Bidlevskii at five seconds, the Islanders' top line showed off a scoring punch to go along with the more literal variety.
The trio of 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome, 2010 first-rounder Nino Niederreiter and Northeastern University product Tyler McNeely combined for 10 points on the night. McNeely, who had a goal and three assists, opened the scoring with a highlight-reel goal as he was falling, beating Michael Hutchinson on a play that would have drawn a penalty and likely a penalty shot had he not scored.
Strome, a teammate of Bruins' top pick Dougie Hamilton in Niagara (OHL), then scored twice, followed by a goal from Casey Cizikas to make it 4-0 after one period.
It was a rough night for Hutchinson, who gave up goals to Niederreiter and Justin DiBenedetto in the second before giving way to camp invite Jared DeMichiel for the third period. DeMichiel was one of the few bright spots for the Bruins. He did allow one goal in the third as Cizikas scored again off a great feed from Kirill Kabanov, who beat both David Warsofsky and Miller to the puck to negate an icing, then set up Cizikas in front.
DeMichiel returned the favor later in the third when he robbed Kabanov with a spectacular glove save off a feed from Gallant. That came moments after Gallant came out of the box from his second fight of the night, this time against Anthony Camara. Last year's tournament had a strict two-fight rule, with players ejected after their second fight in the two-game series, but this year's games appear to have gone back to the standard NHL rules allowing three majors in a game before expulsion.
The Bruins finally got on the board at 5:02 of the third when Craig Cunningham scored unassisted on a wrister from the right wing. Cunningham set up Boston's other goal as well with a strong drive to the net, this time from the left side. Goalie Anders Nilsson, who was strong all game with 38 saves, made the initial stop, but Camara banged home the rebound from the top of the crease. Stokes picked up the second assist on the play.
The Bruins' rookies fared no better than the big club in the playoffs when it came to the power play, going 0-for-8 on the night, including a two-man advantage early in the second period. The Islanders converted two of their four chances on the power play.
Boston had a bit of a scare when 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev left the ice bloodied late in the second, but he returned to play in the third. The Islanders weren't as fortunate, with defenseman Marc Katic lost for the game early with a dislocated left shoulder.
The Bruins rookies return home for off-ice workouts Wednesday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena, followed by a return to the ice on Thursday before the main camp opens on Friday.