For the second consecutive series, the New York Islanders are down 3-0 after three games. They advanced each time by winning three straight games, and they’re now in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second year in a row.
The Islanders trounced the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night, with Brock Nelson scoring twice in a three-goal second period and Semyon Varlamov stopping 23 shots.
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck, and Ryan Pulock also scored to set up a rematch with the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who defeated the Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference finals last year in Edmonton, Alberta, on the bubble.
The schedule for the semifinal series has yet to be made public.
“You have to defeat the greatest if you want to win it all,” Nelson explained. “I don’t believe anyone has been contemplating vengeance on Tampa while sitting here. Just taking it one game, one series at a time. We can now change the page and concentrate our attention on them. They’re clearly a fantastic squad, as they’re the defending champions. It’s going to be fantastic.
Josh Bailey, who contributed two assists, echoed the notion.
He stated, “We feel we have some unfinished business.” “We’ll have a good time tonight and then get ready for tomorrow.”
“To beat a team like them, you need everyone,” he remarked. “Everyone in the lineup contributed, and we played the style we needed to win the game. I’m more than ready to move on.”
In front of a loud home crowd at Nassau Coliseum, Jean-Gabriel Pageau also had two assists to help New York knock off Boston.
“You want to bring your best whenever you have the chance to close out a team,” Nelson said. “I believed we were able to do that both times, against Pittsburgh in the first round and Boston in the second round.”
The Islanders weren’t as successful against Boston’s Perfection Line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron in the second round after shutting down Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel in the first round. The Bruins’ trio totaled 10 goals and 12 assists in the series.
New York defenseman Adam Pelech remarked, “They’re a tremendously skilled line and they definitely got their opportunities.” “I believed we became better as the series progressed. It’ll be difficult to entirely shut down those individuals; they’ll get their chance.”
The remainder of the Bruins, on the other hand, combined for only seven goals.
Tuukka Rask made 23 saves in Game 6 for Boston, and Marchand scored twice. For the second year in a row, the Bruins, who reached the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, were ousted in the second round.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy stated, “They’re a good defensive team.” “They certainly have a superior puck management system than we do. We aren’t getting the same free opportunities they are in terms of puck mismanagement…. They aren’t defeated by themselves.”
Marchand got the ball in front of the net on the Bruins’ power play and blasted a backhander past Varlamov from the right side at 5:38 of the third period to trim Boston’s deficit to 4-2. Marchand scored his fifth goal of the series and his eighth of the postseason.
In the third period, the Islanders’ suffocating defense held the Bruins to just five shots on goal.
With 1:25 remaining, the Bruins withdrew Rask for an extra skater, and the Islanders sealed the game with empty-net goals from Clutterbuck and Pulock in the final minute.
After outscoring the Bruins 8-3 in the first five games, New York added three more in the second to take the series lead for the third time.
At 5:20, Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk, who went on a breakaway and beat Rask into the top right corner to give New York a 2-1 lead.
With 7:23 left in the second period, Bailey intercepted a Rask outlet pass and passed Nelson sprinting to the net, who beat the keeper from the right side for his second of the night and sixth of the playoffs.
Palmieri retrieved the rebound of Pelech’s point shot and scored from the right side for his sixth goal of the playoffs, extending the Islanders’ lead to 4-1.
At 8:52 of the first period, Zajac scored on the rebound of a point shot by Noah Dobson, giving the Islanders the lead for the first time this postseason.
Due to overlapping tripping penalties on Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas, Boston had a 5-on-3 advantage for 14 seconds late in the first period. The crowd erupted in yells of “New York Saints! New York Saints!” in reference to what Cassidy dubbed the “I” team.
“Some of the chants can be heard,” Bailey said. “It was a fantastic mood out there tonight. I believe we benefited greatly from it.”
Marchand knotted it with 2:24 left in the game after receiving a cross-ice feed from Pastrnak in the right circle and swiftly bet Varlamov high on the glove side.
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