I mean, what?
Game 1 was the closest game in terms of on-ice play, because a track meet behooves the Pens’ style, but the Isles pulled it out and have been controlling play through their tight structure since, not allowing Pittsburgh to establish much of anything. I hate to quote Pierre McGuire, but the Islanders’ play through Games 2 and 3 has been, as he said during the broadcast, “surgical.”
This series isn’t over yet. The Penguins are still a talented team that could turn this series on a dime, and a series isn’t over until a team wins four games. They’re going to try their damnedest to not get eliminated on home ice Tuesday night. But if you wanted to pull your brooms out of the closet just in case...
Islanders-Penguins Playoff Coverage
Recaps from Game 3’s crowd-stunning victory:
- The win, of course, gives the Islanders a commanding 3-0 lead over the Penguins. [LHH]
- The only goal allowed by Robin Lehner was a crazy tip-in from 12th forward Garret Wilson; he made 25 other saves, not many of which were anything really close to dangerous. The Islanders bottled up the Penguins’ offense again. [Newsday]
- NEW! “Now, it’s time to stop treating the Islanders like a surprise and start treating them like what they are — a terrific team.” [NY Post]
- They truly shut them down in the 4-1 win. The Pens had the first goal, and Jordan Eberle tied the game up so fast that the Pittsburgh goal hadn’t even been announced yet. Took the crowd right out of it. [Islanders]
- And from there, the Penguins just couldn’t get anything significant going. They had a couple of chances that didn’t materialize and a couple chances that Lehner didn’t allow to materialize. [NHL Recap | Gamecenter]
- Brock Nelson scored 1:02 after Eberle to give the Islanders the lead for good in the game. The two goals were the quickest for the Isles in the playoffs since Kip Miller and Mariusz Czerkawski scored 38 seconds apart in Game 6 in the 2002 playoffs against the Maple Leafs. [NYI Skinny]
“Sidney Crosby had 100 points in 79 games in the regular season. He has zero in three playoff games against the Islanders.
‘Really?’ Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk said after his team’s 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday gave them a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series. ‘I didn’t even know that.
‘That’s the thing: We’re not worried about what other teams are doing; we’re worried about what we’re doing. That’s the mentality we need to have and to keep having to have success.’”
— Colin Stephenson, Newsday
- They’ve been methodical in shutting down the Penguins’ stars like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang. And they’re not even aware they’re doing that specifically; they’re just doing their job and executing to a ‘T.’ [Newsday]
- Lehner is using his head to frustrate the Penguins — literally. He headbutted a puck out of danger in Game 3. It was hysterical. [Newsday]
- PHOTOS: Take in the sights of Game 3. [Newsday]
Barry Trotz’s post-game press conference, in which he praises just about everything the Islanders have been doing and says they’re still not done, which they’re not:
- In the presser, Trotz stressed the mantra they’ve kept since Day 1: “we over me.” Arthur Staple shows how that mantra has led them to the doorstep of a first-round sweep. [The Athletic]
- Eberle has a goal in each game of the series, and he couldn’t have gotten hot at a better time. [Newsday]
Beyond the Blue and Orange
Yesterday’s playoff scores were full of intrigue:
- The Islanders being up 3-0 on the mighty Penguins is pretty stunning; so what should we call the Blue Jackets being up 3-0 on one of the, if not the, best regular season teams of all-time in the Tampa Bay Lightning? Tampa Bay really wasn’t even able to get anything of note generated until the third period, when they finally flashed desperation, but Sergei Bobrovsky withstood the barrage, holding on for a 3-1 win. Before that, though, it was pretty much all Columbus.
- The Jets and Blues saw the first lead of more than one goal take place in Game 3 of their series. Winnipeg’s offense exploded for 3 goals in just over 4 minutes in the start of the second period to take a 3-1 lead, and they’d never lead by less than 2, winning 6-3. With the win, they cut St. Louis’ series lead to 2-1; in this series, the road team has won every game so far.
- The Golden Knights jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over the Sharks, like really early: Mark Stone scored pretty much off the opening faceoff to put Vegas up :16 into the game. They led 5-1 at one point, and Stone went to record the first hat trick of his NHL career in the 6-3 final. Vegas leads San Jose 2-1 in the series.
Beyond the Scoreboard
- This article was published before the Lightning lost last night, but are we witnessing one of the biggest collapses in recent NHL playoff history? [The Athletic]
- I mean sure, Victor Hedman was a late scratch due to injury and Nikita Kucherov missed the game because he was suspended, but there’s still a lot of skill in this lineup. [NHL]
- Nazem Kadri has been offered an in-person hearing for his utter stupidity, which carries the suspension potential of six or more games. I imagine we’ll have a ruling before tonight’s Game 3 in Toronto. [NHL Dept. of Player Safety]
- A lot went wrong in Game 2 for the Maple Leafs, but that’s going to happen, and you have to move on to the next game. But Kadri’s retaliation showed an unwillingness to move on, and if he’s out for the series, it will make the Bruins’ job a hell of a lot easier. [The Athletic]
- The Avalanche blueline will be getting a pretty large boost in the form of Cale Makar. He was the 4th overall pick in 2017 and just finished up a dominant season for UMass, where he won the Hobey Baker Award. He signed his ELC and will be in the lineup immediately. [ESPN]
- The Oilers’ Dept. of Player Personnel needs an overhaul, and former Oilers coach Ralph Krueger could be the man for the job, if, for some reason, he’d actually want it; he had spent the last six years as Chairman of Southampton, a soccer club in the English Premier League, but is in search of a new gig. Remember, though, he only coached one season in Edmonton before they fired him via Skype in the summer of 2013. [Edmonton Journal]