Whichever team emerges from this East Division playoff series will have earned their victory and have some scars to show for it.
And after Saturday’s Game 4 at Nassau Coliseum, it’s anyone’s guess whether that team will be the Bruins or the Islanders after the Islanders tied up the series 2-2 with a 4-1 victory in a crucible of a playoff game on Long Island.
“It has been as expected,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 30 saves in another solid performance. “They play a hard game, a heavy game. There’s no free real estate out there and it’s been kind of like everybody expected. I think the physicality has gotten more and more intense as the series has gone on.”
The Islanders broke a 1-1 tie with 6:57 left in the third period on a Mat Barzal goal. Scott Mayfield’s shot from the blue line was deflected high in the air and Barzal batted it out of mid-air past Rask for the 2-1 lead.
From there, the Isles did a good a job locking things down before Casey Cizikas and Jean-Gabriel Pageau added late empty-netters to seal the victory.
It was knock-down, fight-for-your-ice playoff game from the first drop of the puck.
Now they’ll head back to Boston for the all-important hinge Game 5 at the Garden on Monday. Either they go back to Long Island for Wednesday’s Game 6 with a chance to close the Coliseum for good, or they’ll be fighting for their own lives.
“Right now, I’m very excited to go back and play in front of our fans again,” said David Krejci. “We’re definitely going to use their energy. It’s Game 5. Playoffs are about making adjustments. We’ll do some adjustments, I’m sure they will as well. But we’re going to have to play our best game of the season.”