Islanders' Tim Jackman, left, exchanges blows with Bruins' Jeremy Reich. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Steven Senne
BOSTON - The Boston Bruins are starting to believe their defensive system will net better results this season behind the play of goaltender Tim Thomas. Now they've got to find a way to continue it on the road.
Thomas stopped 25 shots and Glen Metropolit scored the winner to lift the Bruins to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday. It was the 12th time in 20 games this year the Bruins have scored two goals or fewer, but behind Thomas' play they've remained in the middle of the NHL's Eastern conference standings.
"I think he's been extremely good for us from the start," Boston coach Claude Julien said of his goalie. "Part of it is being in control of the shots. I know I keep preaching it, but guys are in control of things in front of him."
Metropolit scored in the third period for the Bruins, who won for the fourth time in five games.
Mike Sillinger scored for the Islanders, who have two goals or fewer in their last seven games, but have won three.
New York had a two-man advantage for 1:40 early in the third period, but didn't get a shot on Thomas.
"It was the game, basically," Thomas said. "If we give up one there it would have been that much harder to battle back."
With New York's Bill Guerin in the penalty box for hooking, the Bruins' Glen Murray opened the scoring late in the second period when he slipped a wrist shot between goalie Rick DiPietro's pads from the slot after collecting Marco Sturm's pass from behind the net.
DiPietro made 23 saves.
Metropolit beat DiPietro with a slapshot from the top of the left circle with 7:19 to play. Sillinger scored when he redirected Bruno Gervais' pass.
New York had a power play during the closing two minutes and pulled DiPietro with about 45 seconds left, but failed to get the puck past Thomas, who made a save in a scramble in front with 1.4 seconds left.
"Right now, were stationary and it looks like we have no confidence in our power play," New York coach Ted Nolan said.
Boston embarks on a tough stretch the next 2½ weeks, playing nine of its next 10 away from the TD Banknorth Garden beginning Saturday night with a rematch against the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y.
"We have to get on a roll," Thomas said. "To be on the road just makes it more difficult. Nine out of our next 10 on the road - that's a tough stretch for any team."
The Islanders couldn't seem to get organized at the top of their power play unit during the two-man advantage, having the puck poked away a couple of times.
"Anytime you have a five-on-three, obviously, you have to score. Our power plays been a little bit dry of late," Sillinger said. "We weren't executing, our passes weren't crisp. What can I say? Five-on-three, you have to score."
Following a tight-checking opening period, the teams opened up a bit in the second. With just over 11 minutes left, New York's Miroslav Satan hit the right post and barely missed poking in the rebound that was lying in the crease behind Thomas.
A little over two minutes later, Boston's Peter Schaefer missed wide on a backhand shot after spinning in front of DiPietro while alone in front.
Notes: The Bruins held a moment of silence for former coach Tom Johnson, who died at his Falmouth, Mass., home Wednesday. During the first stoppage of play, the announcer asked fans for "one last round of applause" for Johnson, who coached the Bruins to their last Stanley Cup title in 1972, while the scoreboard flashed pictures. He was 79. ... It was LW Sturm's 700th career game. ... The Islanders play their next three games at home, where they have won four of five. ... Boston LW Milan Lucic went to the bench looking a bit wobbly after taking a first-period hit from Islanders defenceman Bryan Berard. He skated only one more shift, and Julien said afterward that he was kept out to be "evaluated for a head injury." His status for Saturday in uncertain.