I am so happy I get to write this one.
The Islanders, despite squandering a 3-1 series lead, advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, getting another 4-0 shutout in a clinching win. Oh, did I mention it was a Game 7? It was a Game 7.
Thomas Greiss entered the crease for the Islanders tonight, replacing Semyon Varlamov, who appeared a bit rattled by the Flyers over the previous two games. Although, whoever was in net tonight, the Islanders made it pretty easy for their goaltender. What a team win. In a Game 7!
First Period: That’s the Start This Team Needed
The Islanders needed the first goal tonight. Throughout the season, and especially this postseason, they hadn’t been fazed by allowing the first goal—they even won despite conceding the first goal to the Flyers Sunday night in Game 4.
However, during the last two games, they let Philadelphia score first and they had to play catch up the rest of the game. They succeeded in catching up but it surely exhausted them and Philly went on to win both.
Wasn’t an issue tonight, though.
Because Scott Mayfield—yes, Scott Mayfield, the one whose stick broke on the OT winner in Game 6—got the first goal of the game. Jordan Eberle got the puck out to Devon Toews at the middle point and Toews shoved it over to Mayfield right next to him. The right side was as empty as a runway waiting for a plane, so Mayfield glided in and winded up a slapper that blew past Carter Hart.
Mayfield's FIRST CAREER PLAYOFF GOAL pic.twitter.com/bLxxVrbz5l— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 5, 2020
Four minutes later, Derick “Big Game Brass” Brassard sent a cross-ice pass to Andy Greene. Hart over-committed and left the net wide open for Greene and he took advantage, scoring his second of the series.
Brassard ➡️ Greene ➡️ GOALLLL pic.twitter.com/z1HUnwsjqV— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 6, 2020
Second Period: Nelson Insurance Agency
It felt good to come out of the first with a 2-0 lead, but I wasn’t feeling too comfortable yet. Philly could’ve easily scored once and they would’ve been right back in it. They didn’t really get much going after the Islanders scored the first goal, but if they got one, they would’ve been right back in it.
Thankfully, the Flyers continued to fail to generate. And for good measure, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson combined on a two-on-one for a 3-0 goal. Nelson broke up a chance for the Flyers in the defensive zone and Ryan Pulock recovered the puck. Pulock sent a long outlet pass that Bailey caught at the Philadelphia blue line and the two linemates cruised in. Bailey timed the pass perfectly and Nelson had an open cage that he wasn’t missing.
that pass from Bailey— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 6, 2020
that goal from Brock
Third Period: That’ll Do It, Folks (!!!!!!!!!)
Things were feeling good. As an Islanders fan, I was still a bit nervous. I was thinking to myself, “well, if the Flyers score one really early in the third, they have a whole period to get two back and they totally will.” I can’t help it. Even when things are going well, always waiting for that shoe to drop. But not with this Barry Trotz-coached team.
No, the Islanders weren’t even going to let the Flyers pretend they were back in this game. It was never close. Philadelphia had their chances, sure, but it was never threatening. And on the occasions Philly got close, Greiss shut the door.
Alain Vigneault pulled his goalie really early again out of desperation. There was just under 7:00 left when Hart skated to the bench, but the Flyers never got set up and Anthony Beauvillier put the puck into the empty net to make it 4-0.
Beauvillier with the ENG! pic.twitter.com/lXH3KPr9sx— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 6, 2020
At that point, all the national broadcasters could do was praise the Islanders, and deservedly so.
The Islanders. Are going. To the Eastern. Conference. Final. I can’t believe it, folks. Oh my God.
- I don’t know, man, I’ve got a ton of thoughts right now and none of them are quick.
- Alright here we go.
- How sick is it for Mayfield that his first career playoff goal is a Game 7 winner, especially after his unfortunate broken stick in Game 6? Man, that felt great.
- And Greene getting his second of the series, and his second in ten years?
- The top line, despite not getting on the scoresheet, was excellent. Well, Eberle did get a secondary assist on Mayfield’s goal. But Anders Lee was very good and Mathew Barzal was incredible. He was everywhere tonight. Trotz called it his “best game as a pro.” This despite his existing cut, taking a puck to the skull in warmups, and taking an errant high-stick to the nose tonight.
#Isles Barry Trotz said Game 7 might have been Barzal's best game as a pro.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) September 6, 2020
(Me talking: I agree)
Also told Barzy he's going to look more and more like a hockey player more marks on his face he gets.
Message to the team was "Have fun. It's rare. Do something special today."
- Greiss didn’t have to do much tonight, but when he had to play, oh man did he ever. Not to mention, I’m sure the confidence of having him back there helped the team settle in, given how shaken Varlamov seemed.
- The Islanders won a Game 7. I mean, honestly, wow. I’m totally missing some performances deserving recognition tonight but it’s okay, the Islanders are moving on.
On to the Eastern Conference Final!!!!! Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning will be on NBCSN, in the U.S., on Monday night at 8:00 p.m. EDT, live from Edmonton.