By Lenn Robbins
By Lenn Robbins
This is the way it used to be. An elite hockey team on the ice. A raucous crowd turning the Nassau Coliseum into a sound asylum. Celebrities in the crowd.
The Islanders will have a brand-new home next season but on this glorious Saturday afternoon all of Long Island was reminded what a magnificent happening playoff hockey is in what has endearingly been known as The Barn. With rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin making 25 saves and the Islanders hammering away at the Penguins, the Islanders posted a 4-1 thrashing to even their best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Included in the announced crowd of 6,800, which sounded more like 13,600, was Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and several offensive linemen including the rambunctious Dan Feeney who crushed his beverage with a head butt after Josh Bailey made iit a 2-0 game about midway through the second period.
If this is any indication of the Power of Zach, Jets fans can dream of their team playing a home playoff game with perhaps Matt Barzal or Anthony Beauvillier at MetLife Stadium. After losing Game 2, 5-4, the Islanders couldn’t afford to go back to Pittsburgh trailing 3-1. The series resumes Monday in the Steel City with the Islanders chances suddenly looking a lot better.
Sorokin was in net for the 4-3 OT win in the opener. But Barry Trotz turned to Semyon Varlamov who gave up soft goals in Games 2 and 3, both Islanders losses. Sorokin had a shutout until 17:25.
In addition to getting better goaltending, the Islanders saw a significant uptick in the play of Barzal and Jordan Eberle, who scored a power play goal at 6:28 giving the Islanders a 4-0 lead.
The Islanders forecheck paid special attention to Pittsburgh’s stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who took three minors and might have aggravated his injured knee. Crosby, one of the game’s all-time greats, was held to two shots.