BOSTON — Tuukka Rask was getting frustrated that the season was a month old and he had yet to win a game. His teammates knew they were letting him down.
“He’s bailed us out a lot of times,” Bruins forward Nathan Horton said. “We obviously want to give him confidence. He’s a great goaltender, and we’ve got to play better in front of him.”
Rask stopped 24 shots and Horton had two goals and an assist on Monday night as the defending Stanley Cup champions beat the New York Islanders 6-2 night to escape last place in the Eastern Conference. It was the first win of the season for Rask, who was 0-3 as the backup to reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas.
“I was a little frustrated, but not too crazy,” Rask said. “I knew it would come. But we were playing badly as a team early in the season.”
The Bruins have three in a row for the first time this season, scoring 18 goals in victories over Ottawa, Toronto and the Islanders. David Krejci, who had a hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday, had a goal and two assists against New York — giving him back-to-back three-point games after going scoreless in his previous six.
“I think the past few games is the way we’re supposed to play, and it shows in the outcome,” forward Patrice Bergeron said. “When we’re feeling good, playing well, we don’t want to stop.”
Evgeni Nabokov allowed three goals on 12 shots before he was pulled just 12:40 into the game. Al Montoya went the rest of the way and made 21 saves for the Islanders.
The Bruins scored a pair of goals 29 seconds apart in the first period to make it 3-1, and then had another pair just 49 seconds apart in the third to take a 5-2 lead. New York pulled the goalie with 4:02 left, and Krejci scored an empty-netter with 2:48 to play.
“We just made a couple of mistakes you can’t make against a good team,” former Bruin Brian Rolston said. “And we paid for it.”
It was the third straight strong offensive performance by Boston, which beat Ottawa 5-3 on Tuesday. For the Islanders, it was a seventh loss in eight game and a 13th loss in their last 17 games against the Bruins.
“We just had some guys that didn’t show up tonight. I’m not going to name any names,” coach Jack Capuano said. “We had a couple of lines that played well. Pandolfo hit a post. We had a couple of lines but not enough to sustain it against a team like that.”
The Bruins took the lead just 92 seconds into the game when Jordan Caron’s forechecking forced a turnover in the Islanders’ zone and he got the puck over to Benoit Pouliot. But the Islanders tied it when Steve Staios’ slapshot from the point was deflected into the net by Matt Moulson.
That’s when Boston broke it open.
With 6:22 left in the first, Zdeno Chara’s shot popped out to Horton at the circle and he put in the rebound to make it 2-1. Just 29 seconds later, Bergeron centered to Tyler Seguin from behind the net for another goal.
That was it for Nabokov.
The Islanders cut the deficit to one goal with 1:24 left in the first when John Tavares kept the puck in the zone with a baseball swing, then Michael Grabner scored.
But after a scoreless second period the Bruins struck quickly again.
Milan Lucic and Horton got behind the defense for a 2-on-0 to make it 4-2, leaving Staios to angrily knock the net off its moorings. With 14:37 left, Horton was left alone in front of the net to swipe in a rebound of Joe Corvo’s shot.
Notes: Daniel Paille took a slapshot off his face in the third period, leaving a lot of blood on the ice but eventually skating off under his own power. … Bergeron extended his point streak to seven games. … Seguin had a hat trick in the Toronto win and leads the club in scoring. … Bruins F Rich Peverley was out with an undisclosed injury. … Chris Kelly played 500th career NHL game. … Five times this year, the Bruins have scored twice in less than 30 seconds, including three times in Toronto on Saturday night. … It was just New York’s fourth road game of the year. … John Tavares has 8 of the Islanders’ 23 goals coming into game, the highest percentage in the NHL. … The 23 goals in their first 11 games was the fewest for the Islanders since 1999.