Bergeron scores 3 as Bruins beat Islanders 5-2
By VIN A. CHERWOO
NEW YORK (AP) A day after going without a shot on goal, Patrice Bergeron regained his scoring touch for the rolling Boston Bruins.
Bergeron scored three goals Thursday night for his second hat trick in less than two weeks, leading Boston to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders that gave the Bruins at least a point for the 15th consecutive game.
Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists as Boston improved to 11-0-4 since its last regulation loss Dec. 14 against Washington - its best stretch since going 15-0-1 from March 2-30, 2014.
Bergeron had at least three goals in a game for the third time in his career and just 12 days after a four-goal performance at home against Carolina. He hadn't scored since that five-point night, but had four assists in four games, including two in a win at home against Montreal on Wednesday night.
"Last game was one of those nights where I was trying to find my wingers," the 32-year-old center said. "Tonight I was getting the looks again and I was trying to take them."
With 19 goals in 39 games this season, Bergeron is on pace to eclipse his career high of 32 set two season ago.
"I feel like I'm shooting just as much, maybe I get some better looks and Brad is finding me a little bit more in the slot," Bergeron said. "Puck goes in sometimes and sometimes it doesn't, and right now it is so I'm going to try to keep shooting and keep trying to find the back of the net."
Ryan Spooner had a goal and an assist, and Anton Khudobin stopped 22 shots as the Bruins improved to 20-3-4 since Nov. 15 and pulled within five points of first-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division.
Bergeron completed the hat trick when he took a pass from Marchand, spun and fired from the left circle at 3:45 of the third period.
"When he's playing the way he is right now, it's fun to watch," Marchand said. "It's fun to be on the ice with him."
Tavares' 25th pulled the Islanders within two with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining. Marchand capped the scoring with his 20th, an empty-netter with just over a minute to go.
Boston took control with two goals in the second period and sealed it with two more in the third.
Spooner put Boston ahead 2-1 near the midpoint of the second. Off a faceoff in the Islanders' zone to Halak's left, Spooner backhanded the puck past the goalie for his seventh at 9:47.
Just 15 seconds after New York's Anders Lee was sent off for tripping, Bergeron got the puck on the right side after Torey Krug's shot went off Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech's leg and beat Halak with 6:11 left in the middle period. Krug got his 200th career point on the play.
"They got a break on the second goal," New York coach Doug Weight said. "The (power-play goal) slapped us in the face and we got away from our game. We got frustrated in the third (period)."
Eberle gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 7:35 into the game when he beat Khudobin for his 15th. Mathew Barzal got his 32nd assist and 48th point on the play - both tops among all NHL rookies.
The Bruins tied it with 6:19 left in the first when Bergeron fired it past Halak from the inside edge of the right circle.
NOTES: Barzal has eight assists and 11 points in the last five games. ... Islanders F Josh Bailey, headed to his first All-Star game, returned to the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He had an assist on Tavares' goal. ... The Bruins swept the three-game season series, also winning 3-1 at home on Dec. 9 and 5-1 in New York on Jan. 2. ... Boston has won seven straight on the Islanders' home ice since a 3-1 loss at Nassau Coliseum on Nov. 2, 2013. That includes five visits to Barclays Center, the Islanders' home since the start of the 2015-16 season. ... Bergeron has nine goals and 14 points in his last eight games. ... Marchand, the Bruins' leader in goals, assists and points, has five goals and nine assists in his last seven games.
Bruins: At Montreal on Saturday to wrap a two-game trip.
Islanders: At Chicago on Saturday to open a three-game road trip heading into the All-Star break.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
More AP NHL: www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Updated January 18, 2018