The New York Islanders have taken a 2-1 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That means we’re in some long forgotten territory for the Islanders, who haven’t won more than a game in the second round since 1993, before key players Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews were born. Whatever happens next in this series, take a moment tonight to just enjoy the best Islanders hockey team we’ve seen in about 27 years.
The Flyers came out strong to start the game, much like the Islanders had in Games 1 and 2. The Islanders really struggled out of the gate, not generating much at all until Philadelphia had opened the scoring. Tyler Pitlick scored the opener, and he was part of a very effective third line for the Flyers. Semyon Varlamov was screened on the shot and just never saw it.
That served as the wake up call for the Islanders, who were able to come back in the back half of the period to make it seem a little more even, but couldn’t break through Carter Hart, who made an excellent save on Brock Nelson to keep the Flyers lead.
This time, the Islanders would put the pressure on the Flyers and keep it on for the period, as Barzal was active and generating chances, including a wraparound that went straight through the crease and a one timer he shot wide. Toews and Beauvillier had a partial 2 on 0 with a Flyer close behind, but Toews made the pretty obvious pass that Hart was able to anticipate.
That missed opportunity felt like it might be a sign that the Islanders might not be able to capitalize on a great stretch of hockey, but during a line change, Barzal was able to get the puck to Matt Martin from behind the net, and Martin’s shot alone in front initially seemed to be stopped by Hart, but it squeaked over his pads and in.
After that goal, the Flyers pushed back a little, but the period was really all Islanders. And they were rewarded for that by an unlikely hero - Uncle Leo Komarov. A great play from Derick Brassard who outworked his defender to the puck and made the pass to Komarov, whose backhand snuck through Hart’s pads and in to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at the end of the period.
Just some absolute grinders— Isles on MSG Plus (@IslesMSGN) August 30, 2020
2-1 good guys after 2 pic.twitter.com/MaNwSUZKL0
Robert Hagg took a slashing penalty a couple of minutes into the third, breaking his stick over Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s. During the delayed penalty, an Islanders back pass took a long slide down the ice, nearly giving every fan a heart attack in the process. The Isles continued to toy with us, making a few more risky back passes and giving us all anxiety until eventually the Flyers touched the puck.
A little over a minute into the power play, captain Anders Lee gave the Islanders a two goal cushion from his office. Jordan Eberle passed the puck to Lee, and instead of immediately deflecting it, Lee stopped it and moved to his backhand and scored.
Hagg took another penalty, this time for hooking Pageau on a breakaway, but the Islanders would not produce another power play goal, and the power play itself was disjointed, looking to just kill off two minutes instead of looking for another goal. Varlamov had to work to maintain the two goal lead, too, robbing Joel Farabee in front of the net.
The Flyers made a big push down two, and Lee’s helmet came off during some contact with Scott Laughton and Lee didn’t immediately head to the bench, resulting in a Flyers power play. Laughton maybe helped Lee’s helmet off, which is typically a roughing penalty, but it’s a little bit of a judgment call there and the Flyers had been complaining about some missed calls, so we’ll just call it a make up.
The Flyers pulled Hart on the power play to get a 6 on 4, and the Islanders were able to kill the penalty and the rest of the time of the clock, earning a 3-1 win and a 2-1 series lead.
- Eberle had two assists tonight, a secondary on Martin’s goal and the primary on Lee’s, but he’s overall been pretty quiet and not great defensively this series. Would love to see him take over a little bit more in the offensive zone, he’s looked a little too hesitant.
- Leo Komarov is the most confusing player to me, but please keep the goals coming.
- The Nelson line was quiet tonight but had a few good opportunities that were stopped by Hart. Love the way the top six has been clicking overall these playoffs.
- Should be interesting to see who Trotz goes with in net tomorrow. Varlamov had another great game, but with Thomas Greiss getting in some time and looking solid in Game 2, I think keeping Varly fresh is to the Isles’ advantage.
- Bow down to King Adam Pelech:
Adam Pelech with another 87% xG performance. Yawn. #isles cc— josh (garik16) (9-3) (@garik16) August 30, 2020
Quick turnaround as the Islanders will suit up for Game 4 tomorrow night at 8 on big NBC. Keep up the energy!!