BOSTON — Taylor Hall scored his second goal of the game 2:53 into overtime and the Boston Bruins beat the New York Islanders in their home finale on Monday night to clinch third place in the East Division.
Brad Marchand also scored for Boston, which will face second-place Washington in the first round of the playoffs. Tuukka Rask had 16 saves.
Marchand and the Bruins will face former captain Zdeno Chara, who signed as a free agent with the Capitals during the off-season after playing 14 seasons in Boston.
“I think if you look back at the start of the season, you probably could have guessed it was going to play out this way,” Marchand said. “Obviously, it adds another story line.”
Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves before he was replaced to start the third period by Ilya Sorokin, who stopped 10 shots.
New York will face East champion Pittsburgh in the first round.
Hall cut in front and beat Sorokin with a backhander for the game-winner. It was his eighth goal with Boston since being acquired from Buffalo in a trade-deadline deal.
“It’s important for me to try and maintain that individual play in the playoffs,” Hall said. “That’s what’s important.”
Varlamov wasn’t on the bench for after the second intermission, and Cory Schneider came out in uniform and took a seat about seven minutes into the third period.
“He had a little strain. He could have finished. We said: ’Let’s not take any chances,'" Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “If it was a playoff game, I’m pretty sure he would have finished.”
Going for the win in regulation, the Islanders pulled Sorokin for an extra skater with about a minute to play. Marchand had a long shot that just went just wide.
“I thought we played the right way,” New York defenceman Ryan Pulock said. “We were trying to get a goal in regulation.”
Boston had grabbed a 2-1 edge when Marchand, positioned at the top of the crease, redirected David Krejci’s pass into the net for his team-leading 29th goal at 6:15 of the second, but Barzal slipped a wrister over Rask’s right shoulder from the high slot just over two minutes later.
“It’s good to get the two points,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Now we’re locked in.”
Varlamov kept it tied with two solid saves in the closing minute of the second; dropping to block Sean Kuraly’s close bid and flashing his left pad on Patrice Bergeron’s shot from the slot.
Trailing 1-0, the Islanders tied it on Wahlstrom’s power-play goal that beat Rask past his stick with New York skating on a 4-on-3 advantage.
Hall’s goal made it 1-0 in the final minute of the opening period. With the Bruins on a two-man, power-play advantage he one-timed Krejci’s pass from the opposite side of the ice inside the near post on a tough-angle shot.
Fifty-one years ago, Bobby Orr scored an overtime goal against St. Louis to give the Bruins the Stanley Cup, with the Hall of Fame defenceman flying through-the-air horizontally with his stick raised after he was tripped just after the puck went into the net. The moment is forever captured with a statue just outside the entrance to TD Garden.
LARGER CROWDS ALLOWED
Monday’s game marked the first day that the state of Massachusetts was allowing 25% capacity at larger venues like the Garden and Fenway Park. Due to restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance had been limited to 12% for fans since March 22.
“Let’s GO Bruins!” chants were noticeably louder.
NOTES: Bruins forward Ondrej Kase played for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on Jan. 16, but left in the second period and didn’t return. Bruins forward Charlie Coyle missed his third straight with an upper-body injury. … Varlamov entered the night leading the league with seven shutouts.
Islanders: Open playoffs against Pittsburgh.
Bruins: At Washington on Tuesday night, the regular-season finale for both teams.
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