Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a brand new series, so hold onto your hats and get ready to rock The Barn one more time!
Saturday night, inside Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders evened their series with the Bruins (2-2) thanks to a 4-1 victory that was fueled by Semyon Varlamov’s stout goaltending and Mathew Barzal’s clutch goal-scoring. For those of you looking ahead, whether the Isles win or lose Monday night in Boston, the Nassaumen are now guaranteed to return to The Coliseum one more time as Game Six is slated for Wednesday night June 9th.
Drink your tea with honey. Get your sleep. Do whatever it takes to be ready, because come Wednesday night, one team in this series will be fighting to save its season and one team will be fighting to advance to the next round. Hopefully the Islanders are the latter.
But before we get to Games Five and Six, let’s first examine what happened in Game Four.
The Isles came out flying and were able to get the puck in deep against the Bruins; which they used to create multiple chances, however Tuukka Rask was in top form once again and held them off the board.
Then, at 7:28 of the first, Taylor Hall got tired of being taken down and not having the officials on his side, so he went after Scott Mayfield. Hall Challenged Mayfield to a fight, which the latter accepted. Mayfield won the fight and the Old Barn was rocking louder than ever.
Moments after Hall and Mayfield went mano a mano, Mathew Barzal was hurting from a hit and cross-checked Curtis Lazar out of frustration. That led to a second round of fisticuffs as Matt Martin and Jarred Tinordi dropped their gloves after the whistle. Martin beat Tinordi to give the Isles two straight fight wins. Unfortunately, the only statistics that count are goals and neither fight led to one so the game remained tied 0-0.
On the Bruins’ ensuing power-play the Islanders prevented Boston from cashing in and the temperature on the ice continued to escalate as the hits came fast and furious from both sides.
Beyond the hits, there was plenty of action in the first period, especially when Rask just barely got his toe on a shot from Anthony Beauvillier to keep the puck out of Boston’s net. And on the other side, late in the period, David Pastrnak had a glorious, wide-open net to shoot at and missed, hitting the far post as Semyon Varlamov was caught out of position. After the puck clanged off the post, Varlamov fell back onto the puck to cover up.
That’s enough about the first period, no goals were scored after all. So, the teams went to the first intermission looking to up the intensity in period two and hope for some goals as well.
Well, the second period began and the Isles again fell victim to looking for the extra pass instead of getting pucks to the net; which is a mentality issue that has plagued the team for well over a year. Then, Matt Martin was called for holding Brad Marchand off the face-off in Boston’s zone and the Nassaumen went to the penalty-kill.
1:11 into Boston’s power-play, David Krejci scored on a short-side shot to put the Bruins up 1-0 3:57 into the middle period. The Boys from Long Island challenged the goal on the basis of goalie interference and were proven wrong, so the home team went back to the penalty-kill as punishment for getting the challenge wrong.
New York killed off the penalty and when it expired, Jordan Eberle was sprung from the box for a jack-in-the-box try, but was shut down by Rask. Then, on the following shift, Mathew Barzal fed Kyle Palmieri and Palmieri buried the puck past Rask for the game-tying score at 6:38 of the second period.
Just under five-minutes after Palmieri’s tying-goal, Mathew Barzal and David Krejci engaged in the corner with several other players as possession of the puck was up for grabs. Barzal cross-checked Krejci in the back a couple of times but nothing was called. So, Krejci decided to spear Barzal where the sun doesn’t shine and the Isles were given a power-play; their first of the game. By the way, it was initially called a major penalty but was downgraded after review to a minor for slashing. Something tells me the Referees aren’t exactly familiar with how this particular rule should be enforced.
On the Islanders’ power-play the team generated just two shots on goal and no goals, so play continued as the second period continued to get nastier and nastier.
With just under a minute left in the middle period, Charlie McAvoy tripped Anthony Beauvillier and was sent to the box, so the Isles headed to their second power-play of the game. The first half of their man-advantage passed without much fuss, so the second half of the power-play carried over into the third period.
The third period began with the Isles’ still having 1:07 of power-play time on their ledger. Unfortunately, the first 21-seconds of the third period saw the Bruins generate multiple short-handed chances and it was only thanks to Varlamov that the Islanders escaped without giving up a goal.
That should tell you all you need to know about what happened on the Isles’ power-play and once it expired things went back to normal, or as normal as they can be during the second-round of the playoffs.
In fact, for much of the first 12-minutes of the third period, the Bruins pushed the pace of the game and piled up quality shots against Varlamov, who stood tall against the siege and kept the score tied as the Islanders’ skaters had difficulty stringing together any offense.
Then, with just 6:57 left in the third period, Scott Mayfield took a shot from the point that deflected and knuckled into the air. Mathew Barzal was stationed towards the bottom of the left face-off circle and batted the puck out of the air and past Rask for the go-ahead goal; 2-1 Islanders.
Playing with the lead for the first time all night the Islanders managed to keep Boston off the board and when it got down to the final two-minutes, the Boys from Long Island hemmed the Bruins in their own zone to prevent any possible 6-on-4 attacks.
With 1:03 left in the third, Rask finally made his way to the bench and Casey Cizikas almost immediately deposited the puck in the empty net for the 3-1 Islanders lead.
After that it was just a matter of having the final 63-seconds drain off the clock. But before they did, J.G. Pageau put an exclamation point on the game with an empty-netter of his own with just three seconds left on the clock.
Once the final three ticks drained away the Islanders had tied the series at two-games apiece and will head to Boston Monday night for game Five with a chance to take the lead in the series.
The Isles went 0-for-2 on the power-play to go to 3-for-11 in the series…The Isles went 2-for-3 on the penalty-kill to go to 5-for-9 in the series…Kyle Palmieri’s second period goal gave him five-points in his last five-games.
Game 5 — Monday June 7th Islanders at Bruins at TD Garden at 6:30pm(EST).
TV: NBCSN, TVAS, SN1
Radio: 88.7FM WRHU