After winning Game 4 on the Island, the Islanders had the momentum in their favor as they returned to Pittsburgh.
With the series tied 2-2, Game 5 was a must-win.
It wasn’t the Islanders’ strongest offensive performance, but their defense got the job done and they made their shots count as they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in double overtime. Ilya Sorokin, making his third start in goal for the Isles, continued to show his elite level of play. He made 48 saves on 50 shots, keeping his team in the game despite their lack of offense. In fact, the Penguins almost completely doubled the Isles in shots on goal: 50-28.
Josh Bailey was the savior for the Islanders, netting the game-winning goal early in 2OT.
Islanders Respond After Penguins Strike First
The game started with some good, back-and-forth action between the two teams. Bailey had a nice backhanded shot on goal that was blocked by Tristan Jarry before Frederick Gaudreau responded with one of his own. Shortly thereafter, Kyle Palmieri sent a nice pass to Oliver Wahlstrom but he couldn’t finish. At the end of the period, the Penguins only had two more shots on goal: 12-10.
It was Pittsburgh, however, who broke through first. Bailey was called for slashing with about 12 minutes left, giving the Penguins their first power play. They were able to capitalize on an Evgeni Malkin goal, his first of the playoffs. It was the result of a quick passing sequence, with Kris Letang getting the primary assist for his third of the playoffs.
The score remained 1-0 for most of the period, as the Isles didn’t respond until the final minute. With 50 seconds remaining, Anthony Beauvillier got his second goal of the playoffs. After Bailey brought down a flying puck in center ice, he sent it over to Beauvillier, racing down the left side. What followed was brilliant; he skated into the center lane, deked the last defender, went to the left side, and shot to the near corner of the net. It gave the Islanders all the momentum they needed as they headed into the second period.
Penguins Dominate in the Second Period
The Islanders were out-classed by the Penguins in the second period, despite having the momentum. The final line from that frame explained it all; the Isles were out-shot 20-4(!). It was a dreadful period for them and they couldn’t even take advantage of the power play. About five minutes in, Malkin hooked Nick Leddy for the Isles’ first power play of the game. In Game 3 on Saturday, the Isles used two power-play goals to help propel them to a 4-1 win. In this first chance today, however, the Isles didn’t do much. Mathew Barzal started a nice tic-tac-toe pass sequence but it was in vain. The Pens managed their own shot on this kill. Barzal, who has been painfully quiet so far in the playoffs, had a nice look on goal late in the period after speeding ahead. He could not finish it.
The Penguins’ hard work paid off about eight minutes into the period. Bryan Rust got his first goal of the playoffs–a long-range slapshot from the right side that went to the opposite bottom corner. It was hit too cleanly and quickly for Sorokin to respond. The goal was assisted by none other than Sidney Crosby, who set up the one-timer for Rust. It was Rust’s second point of the game after providing the secondary assist on Malkin’s goal.
Rust’s goal lifted the Pens to 2-1 on the game and, considering the number of shots they got off, it could’ve been more. With a little less than 10 minutes left, the Pens got their second power play of the game after Andy Greene was called for high-sticking. Despite their success with the power play in the first period, they weren’t able to score. The Isles were able to kill it while Sorokin made four saves.
Isles Tie it, Sending the Game to Overtime
The Islanders’ offensive slump continued into the third period, as they didn’t get their first shot off until there were 11 minutes remaining. It was worth the wait, however, as it was a nice goal by Jordan Eberle. Jean-Gabriel Pageau won the puck with a good forecheck and it bounced to Leo Komarov, who then passed it across the face of goal to Eberle. It was his second goal of the playoffs and his second in two games.
With the game tied and morale back up, they saw an opportunity to win the game without going into overtime. This opportunity came with six minutes left after Brock Nelson drew a penalty. Gaudreau was called for tripping and the Isles had a chance to win it–but ultimately couldn’t. They managed to get some good shots off but Pittsburgh killed it.
The period finished 2-2 and the game went into overtime for the second time this series. The Isles were going to have to do it without Wahlstrom, however, who took a nasty fall with eight minutes left. He was checked into the board but landed awkwardly, the replay showing his neck move unnaturally. He got up on his own but left the game. Despite the replay also showing a blatant high stick, the penalty wasn’t called.
It Takes Two to Get it Done
Unlike Game 1, which only lasted one overtime, this game lasted two. The Islanders entered with a 4-3 record against the Penguins in playoff OT, including 2-1 in Pittsburgh. Both teams traded blows, with Sorokin coming up clutch yet again. He made some great saves, including some with his stick hand. He shut out the Penguins in the first overtime, meaning he had shut them out for two straight periods. His performance was essential for this win and it’s no surprise that all three victories in this series have come when he has started.
His opponent, Jarry, proved essential for his team too–that is, until double overtime. A blunder on his part cost Pittsburgh the game. Almost a minute into that frame, he received the puck and went to pass it to one of his teammates. He badly misjudged his pass, however, and it landed right at the skates of Bailey. He wasted no time, recognizing Jarry and defenders off-guard and burying it. It was his third goal of the playoffs and his second point of the night.
Looking Ahead for the Islanders
The Islanders will return to the Island for Game 6 on Wednesday, May 26th. If needed, Game 7 will be on Friday, May 28th back in Pittsburgh. Once again, the Isles have the wind in their sails heading into the next game. The stars are aligning for them to eliminate the Penguins and move on to the next round. It was a long, tough game tonight but thankfully they have some time to rest and rethink their game plan. They are on a two-game winning streak heading back home.
They can’t get too comfortable, however. The Pens are a strong team and are perfectly capable of taking the wind right back out of those sails. As they proved tonight, they are tough to beat and won’t go down without a fight.