The New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins would meet for game 2 of the first round at PPG Paints Arena. The Islanders would have a 1-0 series lead after a thrilling overtime win led by Kyle Palmieri. After a 39-save performance, Ilya Sorokin would sit for game 2 and Semyon Varlamov would suit up for the game. New York would look to take a 2-0 series lead back to the Island for game 3.
The beginning of the game started similarly to game 1. The Penguins would take advantage of their high-scoring offense and throw everything at the net. Subsequentially, the Islanders would turn over the puck to Bryan Rust who would throw a harmless puck on goal that would get past Varlamov. Unfortunately, the Penguins would get an early lead with an extremely soft goal. New York was experiencing a massive lack of offensive production and would be heavily outshot in the opening 10 minutes of the game. However, the Islanders would attempt to catch up with shots on goal towards the latter part of the period. On the other hand, the Penguins would fire at all cylinders and double their lead 13:07 into the period with a goal from Jeff Carter. The first period would end with the Islanders trailing 2-0 and Pittsburgh leading 19-13 in shots.
New York started the second frame with a noticeable change in play. They would quickly generate more offensive chances and push for a better period. Tristan Jarry would rebound from a mediocre game 1 performance and make the Islanders’ job harder. The series would see its first multiple-goal lead and the Penguins would continue to put on heavy offensive pressure. However, Varlamov would look more like himself and keep the Islanders in the game. Finally, 14:44 into the second, Josh Bailey would rocket an amazing backhander past Jarry to cut the Penguins lead in half. Oliver Wahlstrom would have a forgettable period due to committing three penalties in one period. Pittsburgh would fire 10 shots in the period and remain scoreless. The Islanders would fire 15 shots on goal and go into the third period down by 1.
The third period would show a more settled pace in the game. The Islanders would not give the same energy as the start of the second with an offensive push. Jarry would also stay solid and limit rebounds. New York pushed to tie the game, but would not generate many high-grade scoring chances. Varlamov would also display strong play and allow the Islanders to have a chance in the game. Unfortunately, the Penguins would keep firing away and shoot on goal 16 times in the period. The Islanders would fail to tie the game with only 10 shots on goal in the period. The Penguins would tie the series at 1 apiece.
The Islanders’ main weakness would be exposed in the second game of the series. Their offense would be unable to generate enough goals to try and win the game. However, the unfortunate mistake by Varlamov is a save that has to be made for New York. The series is tied heading back to New York comes as no surprise. Through two games, the match-up between the teams is extraordinarily even. Also, the Islanders need more production from key players such as Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Anthony Beauvillier. Without production from their highest point scorers, the Islanders will have little to no chance against the Penguins. The Islanders and Penguins will be back in action at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, May 20th!