Hockey

NY ISLANDERS: Final Playoff Tune Up Goes Awry as Islanders Fall to Bruins 3-2 in Overtime Monday Night By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

It’s time for a reset. No, not a roster reset. And no, not a management reset. Rather, it’s that time of year where a reset refers to the standings and how the stakes are raised. The regular-season is over. The Islanders went 32-17-7. They finished in the Top-4 of the Eastern — MassMutual — Division. Now, it’s time to put all that behind us and get ready for the bright lights of the post-season. 16 wins, or four-losses within a seven-game series, are what stands between the Nassaumen and Lord Stanley’s Fabled Chalice.

On Monday night, the Islanders played Game 56 of 56 in this shortened season and they capped things off with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins up in Boston that confirmed the team will play the Pittsburgh Penguins when the playoffs open; likely sometime next weekend. 

The Islanders took a while to find their sea legs as the Bruins came out skating hot and controlled play for much of the opening period. With 7:38 gone by, Ryan Pulock was called for a semi-questionable holding penalty against Taylor Hall — they were both sort of holding each other — to send the Nassaumen to the penalty-kill for the first time in the game.

Fear not though as the Boys from Long Island continued to display a stout penalty-kill by allowing three shots on goal to the Bruins but nothing else; which proved that a good penalty-kill beats a good power-play. 

Unfortunately that was about the only highlight for the Islanders in the period as Boston outshot them 18-4 and kept the Isles hemmed in their own zone for long stretches of time. The Nassaumen were fortunate to not give up multiple goals during those Boston pressure points as they were also held without a shot on goal for lengthy stretches. So, basically, it was an all-Bruins period.

In fact, late in the first, Boston’s pressure rose and essentially forced Nick Leddy to take a holding penalty against Taylor Hall; which led to Hall and Scott Mayfield exchanging a few shoves/punches before being broken apart.

A little more than halfway into Boston’s power-play, Leo Komarov was assessed two minor penalties, one for slashing David Pastrnak and one for unsportsmanlike conduct, also against Pastrnak, to put the Isles at a two-man disadvantage. 

Seconds into Boston’s five-on-three, Hall scored to exact a measure of revenge and put the Bruins up 1-0. And then, with four-minutes of penalty-kill time still remaining for the Islanders, Casey Cizikas broke free short-handed and drew a holding penalty against Charlie McAvoy to balance things out just a bit.

That’s when the first period mercifully came to an end.

Then the second period started and the teams were skating four-on-four for 1:52 before they continued to exchange penalties. 

Taylor Hall, who was clearly still miffed at Leddy for his first period holding penalty, went after the Islanders D-man and cross-checked him to give the Isles a four-on-three power-play. And on the ensuing power-play, Oliver Wahlstrom connected for a goal to even up the score at 1-1. 

From there, the Bruins and Islanders continued to play four-on-four for a few seconds before we finally got back to playing five-on-five for the first time since the first period.

Unfortunately for the Nassaumen, their specialty of even-strength play decided to go missing in action as the Bruins continued to apply sustained pressure to the Isles defenders. The physicality of the game was unsurprising, however, it was a surprise to see the Boys from Long Island have so much trouble with that aspect of the game; even though they did outhit Boston. 

A neutral zone turnover by the Islanders then led to Brad Marchand getting in behind Ryan Pulock and he easily tapped in a goal to put Boston back in front 2-1 at the 6:15 mark of the second period. Lucky for the Isles, they responded quickly as Pulock found Mathew Barzal 2:16 later and the game was tied again; this time 2-2.

That was it for the scoring in the second period; although, both teams had several chances to take the lead. Good thing the Islanders had Semyon Varlamov in net as the Russian netminder stood strong against the Bruins attack.

So, yet again, the Islanders and Bruins went into the third period tied.

When the teams came out to start the third, the Islanders had made a change in net as Ilya Sorokin replaced Varlamov, who was seen talking to the team trainer after the second period and flexing something. So, we await word from the team in regards to what’s up with their number one goalie.

This was an important third period for the Islanders in regards to their playoff position hopes so it was imperative Sorokin play well. A regulation win would have given the Isles some hope to move up to third in the division, however, the team was unable to score before regulation time ran out; even though Head Coach Barry Trotz pulled Sorokin with 1:41 to go for the extra attacker. The rare tie game goalie pull to be precise.

So, without a third goal, the game headed to overtime and the Islanders were officially locked into fourth-place in the division and will open the playoffs on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As for the extra period, the Islanders were unable to muster much of anything before Taylor Hall scored his second of the evening to finish off the game at the 2:53 mark of overtime. 3-2 Bruins the final.

For large stretches of this game the Islanders were unable to get things going against the Bruins and that eventually cost them in a game that was by no means out of reach. Oh well, like I mentioned in the open, now everything resets and the Islanders hope that applies to their recent offensive woes as well.

We’ll see you next time; playoffs here come the Islanders!

GAME NOTES:

The Isles went 1-for-1 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 27-for-144…The Isles went 3-for-4 on the penalty-kill to bring their season tally to 113-for-135…The Isles sat Travis Zajac, Matt Martin, Michael Dal Colle and Braydon Coburn while inserting Ross Johnston into the lineup…Anthony Beauvillier’s points-streak was extended to seven-games with a secondary assist on Mathew Barzal’s second period goal. 

NEXT GAME:

The Isles First-Round Playoff will be the Pittsburgh Penguins, however, the Dates and Times have yet to be determined.

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