The New York Islanders are set to participate in the Stanley Cup semifinal for the second consecutive season after defeating Boston Bruins by a 6-2 Game 6 win at the Nassau Coliseum.
Repeating their performance from the first round, the Islanders dominated the series once it returned to New York. This resulted in rolling four lines, keeping the opponents under pressure behind their blueline, and propping a lead that they successfully held on to.
The team scored several opportunistic goals to take control of the game during the second period. Nevertheless, the team managed to enter the third period with a 3-goal lead. Although the Islanders failed to score a power-play goal and keep the Bruins within two goals, the team held on to the lead and once again made history in the famous Coliseum by scoring two late empty-net goals.
The Islanders restricted the Bruins to only 25 shots, which included only five shots in the third period. The team has already won the war of attrition and seemed to play last Wednesday’s game to receive their reward simply. Post handshake lines, the Islanders saluted their fans to resounding chants of “New York Saints!”.
Despite the critical outlook, the Islanders proved to be a better team than the Bruins this time.
The first period opened with the intensity one might expect from a game involving Islanders and the Bruins. During the first 8 minutes, the Islanders played defensive and prevented goals but drew first blood with an astonishing goal at 8:52.
After winning the offensive zone faceoff, J-G Pageau went against Charlie Coyle, playing the puck low in the corner before finishing high to the point. Travis Zajac came up top in the positional battle against Charlie McAvoy right in front of Tuukka Rask, scooped the puck from the rebound before beating Rask stick-side.
However, the Islanders faced a penalty later in the same period when Anthony Beauvillier stuck his stick in MacAvoy’s skates when the Bruins defense was retrieving a dump-in from behind the net. Later on, Casey Cizikas planted his stick in front of Taylor Hall’s legs, earning an unnecessary tripping call.
The Bruins failed to convert on the 13 seconds of 5-on-3 by they played with significant passion for tying the game, with Cizikas still in the box. With 2:24 to go in the first period, the game was tied 1-1. The score remained the same till the intermission as Kyle Palmieri scored from the high slot right before the horn sounded.
The second period courted controversy when Kyle Palmieri reverse-hit McAvoy with a shoulder to the jaw right being the Bruins goal. McAvoy was clearly caught off-guard by this as he had let up the puck after it went away. However, this incident went surprisingly unpunished by the referees, although Palmieri returned after only 6 minutes of treatment off-rink.
Up next, the New York Islanders are set to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 3rd round, which will seem like deja-vu to those who witnessed last year’s Stanley Cup semifinal.