Bring on The Bruins! Break out your portable grills and your coolers filled with drinks and get ready to TailGate!
Wednesday night, May 26, 2021, has replaced April 28, 1993, as the last time the Islanders closed out a playoff series in style by doing it in front of the fans at Nassau Coliseum. April 28, 1993, was the date of Game 6 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals series between the Isles and Capitals. By the way, the Boys from Long Island won that game 5-3 at The Old Barn. It has been a long time since the Isles Faithful has witnessed a series-clinching win at Nassau Coliseum.
Now, May 26, 2021, has replaced that game as the Islanders knocked off the Penguins in Game 6 of their First-Round series by the same score of 5-3. In this, the final season at Nassau Coliseum, with everything that has gone on in the world, it was only fitting that the Boys from Long Island gave their hometown fans one more special night at The Old Barn. And there will be at least two more chances to rock The Coliseum as the Islanders have moved on to face the Bruins.
So, how did this game unfold? Well…
The Coliseum was rocking before the players even took the ice as the fans made sure to bring it and gave everything they had. Head Coach Barry Trotz was even greeted like a rock star.
But trouble brewed right away as Jordan Eberle’s pass got picked off and led to a Penguins rush up the ice. Jeff Carter beat Anthony Beauvillier to a stretch of open ice and sniped the puck past Ilya Sorokin for the 1-0 Penguins lead just 1:27 into the game.
That trouble was swiftly erased though as Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier went up ice on an odd-man rush moments after Carter’s goal. Nelson perfectly fed Beauvillier, who went backhand over Tristan Jarry’s glove and scored on the Isles’ first shot of the game to tie the score 1-1 at 5:16 of the first. That got the crowd back into things and The Coliseum was rocking once more.
Several moments later, Birthday Boy Mathew Barzal led Jordan Eberle on a two-on-one rush up the ice and was serenaded by the Isles Faithful with the “Happy Birthday” song. Eberle’s shot was saved by Jarry. The rebound came out to Barzal and his shot was blocked by Cody Ceci.
Unfortunately, more trouble followed as Scott Mayfield was called for cross-checking Evgeni Malkin on a big hit and caused the Islanders to go to the penalty-kill. On that penalty-kill, Jake Guentzel sent a shot toward the net from up high and the puck deflected off Ryan Pulock’s skate and darted past Sorokin to give the Penguins the 2-1 lead at 11:12 of the first period.
Good thing the Islanders are a tenacious bunch. Because they came right back 1:13 later as J.G. Pageau sent a floater of a shot towards Jarry. Jarry turned the shot aside but left a big, juicy rebound right in front of Kyle Palmieri, who promptly put the puck in the back of the net for the game-tying goal. 2-2 at 12:25 of the first.
Of course, in between Guentzel’s goal and Palmieri’s, Sorokin was forced to bail out Nick Leddy, who coughed the puck up to Jared McCann. McCann had a high-danger scoring chance, but Sorokin made the critical save to give the Nassaumen a chance to go back up ice to tie the game.
After tying the game 2-2, the Boys from Long Island and the Penguins continued to search for the go-ahead goal, but Sorokin and Jarry did not allow anything to get past them; even though both defenses experienced a bout with sloppiness.
In fact, Sorokin was even bailed out at one point by Travis Zajac, who was in the lineup for the injured Oliver Wahlstrom, as Zajac used his stick blade to prevent an open net goal by Kasperi Kapanen.
So, after 20-minutes it was 2-2 and there was plenty of action left to see.
The second period started much the same way as the first when Jason Zucker tipped a Cody Ceci shot in front of Sorokin past the Isles’ netminder for Pittsburgh’s third lead of the night. 3-2 Penguins 1:53 into the second period.
As opposed to the first period when the Islanders answered quickly, in the second it took a drop longer for them to respond. So, just under seven-minutes after Zucker’s goal, a pretty passing play by the Islanders saw Anthony Beauvillier pass the puck to Josh Bailey, who fired cross-ice to Brock Nelson, who re-directed it past Jarry for the game-tying score. 3-3 at the 8:35 mark of the second period.
Then, just 13-seconds later, Travis Zajac won a face-off in Pittsburgh’s zone and Ryan Pulock fired a low blast from the point past Jarry for the go-ahead goal. 4-3 Islanders 8:48 into the second period. And if that wasn’t enough, 2:46 after Pulock’s goal, Brock Nelson fired a shot that trickled through Jarry’s legs for the 5-3 Islanders as The Coliseum was going bonkers. The Penguins called a timeout after Nelson’s second-goal as the broadcasters speculated if a goalie change was coming. (Jarry remained in the game).
Moments later, Nelson, in search of his third goal of the period broke loose for a breakaway and shot it wide before Evgeni Malkin went back up ice for a breakaway of his own and was stoned by Sorokin as the Isles faithful serenaded their goalie in appreciation.
If you want to talk about wild periods, you need to re-watch the second period because that may have been the wildest period of the playoffs.
However, just before the period could end, with 56.6 seconds left to be precise, Ryan Pulock was called for elbowing Jake Guentzel and the Isles went to the penalty-kill, which carried over into the final period of play.
The third period began and the Islanders were 20-minutes away from advancing to the next round for a matchup with the Bruins. But first, they had to kill off the last bit of the Pulock elbowing penalty, which they did; even though they did get lucky when Sidney Crosby’s shot hit the crossbar.
For much of the third period following the successful PK, the Isles faced plenty of pressure from the Penguins, but Sorokin and company stood tall as time drained off the clock. Eventually, with 4:44 to go, Matt Martin caught a stick up high from John Marino and was opened up. So, the Islanders went to their first power-play of the game and it was a four-minute one as Marino received a double-minor.
Sensing the end was near, the Islanders possessed but didn’t really shoot the puck as the clock continued to wind down. And then, it was all over. The Isles were moving on to the Second-Round and a date with the Boston Bruins. In the farewell season to Nassau Coliseum, there will be at least a couple more chances to make memories at The Old Barn.
The Isles went 0-for-2 on the power-play to go to 3-for-16 in the series and 1-for-2 on the penalty-kill to go to 9-for-12 in the series…Ilya Sorokin made his fourth start of the series in net…Travis Zajac tagged in for the injured Oliver Wahlstrom…Anthony Beauvillier’s first period goal gave him a four-game point streak and a three-game goal streak…Happy 24th Birthday to Mathew Barzal…The 13-seconds between Nelson’s first goal and Pulock’s goal tied the Islanders franchise playoff record that was set in 1984…The line of Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Josh Bailey registered a combined eight-points in Game 6.
Game 1 — TBA Islanders at Bruins at TD Garden at TBD(EST).