The Islanders didn’t sweep the Panthers on Wednesday, but they made sure the series didn’t get away from them today, and in a big way.
Anthony Beauvillier (2 G), Mathew Barzal (1 G, 1 A), Brock Nelson (1 G, 1 A) and Josh Bailey (2 A) all had two-point games and Semyon Varlamov only conceded one goal on 25 shots against to out-duel Sergei Bobrovsky, who gave up four goals.
New York, on the whole, looked more like a team playing for their playoff lives than Florida did and they played their game to a T while still pushing the pace of play to the tune of 38 shots-on-goal. The Panthers cut the Isles’ lead down to one toward the end of the first, but that was the only time it felt particularly close, other than before the first goal.
[Game Sum | Event Sum | NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]
First Period: The Beau Show
The game was tight to start. Both teams took only minimal risks and weren’t going to let the other guys catch them cheating.
Beauvillier had the first really good chance of the game with a one-timer from the high slot that Bobrovsky just got over to block. It was a harbinger of things to come for no. 18.
With Bobrovsky seemingly up to the task of stopping the shots he knew were coming, Beauvillier picked up the puck from Josh Bailey at the goal line with his back to the net and flicked a little backhander on goal. It bounced off the wide heel of Bobrovsky’s goalie stick, then his pads, and trickled through his legs to get the Isles on the board; Bobrovsky appeared to be following Bailey as he skated behind the cage, ostensibly believing he had the puck.
Beauvillier.— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 7, 2020
Not long after, Ryan Pulock sprung Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal on a two-on-one. Barzal gave Beauvillier a perfect saucer pass and Beauvillier wasted no time at all getting the shot away. Bobrovsky left his stick behind to try to get his blocker on it, to no avail.
BEAUVI IS A MAD MAN pic.twitter.com/L9H0dmlLT6— Isles on MSG Plus (@IslesMSGN) August 7, 2020
An offensive zone hook by Jordan Eberle gave the Panthers a power play late in the period and they wasted no time converting. Jonathan Huberdeau, wide-open at the bottom of the left dot, fed Mike Hoffman, wide-open at the bottom of the right dot, for a one-timed wrister past Varlamov. It would be the only real gaffe of the game for the Islanders.
Second Period: Insurance and Lockdown
Based on how the previous three games went, as well as the stakes associated with facing elimination, I expected a huge push from Florida in the second period. It never really happened. In fact, New York doubled them up in shots 16-8 throughout the frame.
The Islanders were given a gift by the Panthers in the form of a too many men penalty and Nelson was happy to take it. Off the offensive zone face-off, Devon Toews took the puck at the blue line and moved it over to Bailey. As Bailey skated down the wing, he found Nelson skating down the opposite wing and Nelson gave the Isles the breathing room they needed.
BAILEY ➡️ NELSON ➡️ pic.twitter.com/rUiLLHXmAy— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 7, 2020
Shortly after that, it looked like Aleksander Barkov was going to cut the deficit back down to one. He had a wide open net and Varlamov wasn’t getting over there. Pulock, however, was. He got a diving stick on it to tip it over the net and out of danger.
Teamwork makes the dream work pic.twitter.com/39OY4Ryzy5— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 7, 2020
Third Period: More Insurance, More Lockdown
Florida started to push, knowing their season was on the line, but the Barry Trotz lockdown didn’t allow them much. The Islanders weren’t letting up—they weren’t going hard for a fourth goal, but they weren’t shying away from opportunities, either.
For example, to get out of the zone, Eberle copied an idea from Bailey. Bailey sent Beauvillier in by himself earlier in the game by sending a perfect bank pass off the neutral zone glass from the defensive zone but Bobrovsky was there to swallow it up. Eberle did the same thing with about half the third period gone to send Barzal on his way and Barzal, with a step on Hoffman, roofed the puck past Bobrovsky. Barzal looked like a weight was lifted off his shoulders with that celebration.
we love a good breakaway pic.twitter.com/0LMnwYQBIC— x-New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 7, 2020
The Panthers pulled Bobrovsky with four minutes to go but didn’t threaten much and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who was solid all game, got the empty-netter from Komarov and that was all she wrote.
August 7, 2020
Barry Trotz pic.twitter.com/FNgZjVzr33— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) August 7, 2020
Well, we don’t know. The Islanders are in the First Round and will be either the no. 6 or 7 seed and they will face the no. 2 or 3 seed, but they could still face any one of the round robin teams at this point. We’ll know more by the end of the day Sunday, at the latest!