The New York Islanders will return to The Barn up 3-2 on the Bruins.
One win away from the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In a must-win Game 5, the Islanders came to life, beating the Bruins 5-4. Five different players scored for the Isles, despite conceding early in the first period. The power play proved crucial, as they went 3-4 on the game. Even though they were greatly outshot (44-19), they made their shots count and were able to succeed. The Bruins fought back late in the game, but the Islanders had enough of a lead to hold them back.
Exchanging Blows in the First Period
The Bruins wasted no time, scoring first–just 1:25 minutes in. David Pastrnak opened the scoring with a one-timer from far out after squaring up nicely to the right of Semyon Varlamov. Brad Marchand cleared the puck from behind the goal and it sailed out to Charlie McAvoy. Noticing Pastrnak’s position, he sent a nice pass to him and the rest is history. It was Pastrnak’s sixth goal, who also scored a hat-trick in the first game of this series.
After proving critical in that first goal, Marchand was so close to having a goal of his own. He skated to the left of Varlamov and had the shot, but couldn’t finish. Instead, the puck went across the goal–right behind Varlamov.
The Islanders wouldn’t let the Bruins have the lead going into the second period, however. Sean Kuraly was called for slashing against Noah Dobson and the Isles went to the power play with 1:43 remaining. It was just what the Isles ordered, as they used the man advantage to tie the game 1-1. Mat Barzal, who had been quiet for a while, scored his third goal in as many games. Jordan Eberle won a face-off and the puck went out to Dobson, who sent it to Barzal. He skated inside a little before shooting it near-side in the top corner. This power-play goal was a sign of things to come for the Islanders.
Isles Strike Again on the Power-Play, Gaining the Lead
Just three minutes into the second period, the Islanders were on the power play yet again. This time, Matt Grzelcyk cross-checked Leo Komarov. Like in the first period, the Isles used it to their advantage. Long Island native Kyle Palmieri scored his sixth goal of the playoffs, a tap-in that gratuitously bounced off a couple of skates. Josh Bailey sent a pass towards the front of the net to where Palmieri was and it ping-ponged before landing at Palmieri’s stick. It was 2-1 Isles.
The Bruins turned on the offense shortly afterward. They sat deep in the Isles’ zone and turned on the pressure before Marchand scored an incredible goal. Pastrnak sent him the puck and he attacked the net head-on, dragging the puck around Ryan Pulock before wrapping it around the out-stretched leg of Varlamov. It was a great goal that brought the crowd to its feet.
It didn’t matter to the Islanders, who responded with two goals of their own. The first came from Bailey, who assisted Palmieri earlier in the period. Anthony Beauvillier, on the left of Tuukka Rask, sent the puck towards the center. It went across to Jean-Gabriel Pageau who set up Bailey right next to him. The second came from Eberle, who scored his first goal since Game 5 against the Penguins in the last round. It was another power-play goal and the Isles went to 3/3 with their power plays. Barzal got the assist, bringing him to three goals, three assists, and six points in his last three games.
Bruins Strike Back in the Third, but it’s Not Enough
At the start of the third period, the Islanders were up 4-2 with 20 minutes left to play. Even though a two-goal lead is strong, the strength of the Bruins meant that they had to add some insurance.
Insurance came just two minutes in, off the stick of Brock Nelson. The Bruins tried to clear the puck, but Adam Pelech used his hand to keep it in the offensive zone. From there, it was a quick turnaround as he passed it to Beauvillier who set it up for Nelson. He hit the wrist shot cleanly, sending it to the near side.
This goal proved crucial, as the Bruins came back with two goals of their own. The first came from Pastrnak, who scored his second of the game. Interestingly enough, it was almost identical to the one in the first period. This one, however, came on the power play after Pelech was called for hooking. McAvoy got the assist for his tenth of the playoffs. For the second goal of that period, it was David Krejci. Craig Smith sent a shot from far out and Varlamov was able to save it with his pad. However, Krejci pounced on the rebound and went for a backhand shot. It looked like Varlamov was able to save it but the puck sneaked out from underneath him and he unknowingly nudged it in. Only five minutes remained.
Despite the Bruins going with an empty net with two minutes left, they were unable to score the goal they so desperately needed. The Islanders won a must-win game on the road and are now 3-2 on the series.
Looking Ahead for the Islanders
The Isles will return to Long Island to play Game 6 on Wednesday night. If they win, they advance to the next round of the playoffs. If not, then Game 7 will be back in Boston on Friday night.
Things could not be better for the Isles; numerous players contributed to tonight’s scoreline, Varlamov made some crucial saves, they have the momentum from this win and their loyal fans will be at their backs come Wednesday night. A win in Game 6 would be perfect for the Isles as they continue their run to the Stanley Cup. Obviously, the Bruins won’t make it easy. However, if the Isles can use the power play like they did tonight and make their shots count, they should be able to take the victory.