Despite being pretty significantly outshot (38-18), the Islanders were, at least for a little while, in a position to somewhat control their own destiny. Unfortunately, a regulation win wasn’t in the cards as the Isles and Bruins went into overtime tied 2-2.
The good part is that the two goals came from Mat Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom, two players we’ll need to see regularly on the scoresheet against the Penguins, and Anthony Beauvillier extended his end of season point streak to 7 games.
The bad is that after a stellar two periods of action, Semyon Varlamov left the game and did not return, certainly a cause for concern given how important Varly is to the team.
Ryan Pulock went to the box for a weak holding Taylor Hall after Hall had a good look on goal, and the Isles killed that penalty, but momentum shifted strongly in the Bruins’ favor after the power play. Nick Leddy went to the box, also for holding on Hall, and the Isles would once again go on the kill. Leo Komarov made matters worse, taking a slashing penalty on Brad Marchand and then delivering a cheap shot to David Pastrnak after the whistle, sending a slightly dramatic Pastrnak down to the ice.
Hall scored on the 5 on 3, and then the Isles nearly got it right back when Casey Cizikas had a great short handed chance where he drew a hooking penalty on Charlie McAvoy, but he hit the inside of the post. The Isles and Bruins would go into the second period on a 4 on 4.
Taylor Hall went to the box for crosschecking under a minute into the second frame, and on the 4 on 3 opportunity, Mat Barzal set up Oliver Wahlstrom, who beat Tuukka Rask with a fantastic shot to tie the game.
Varlamov made a big save on Bergeron to keep the game tied, but Brad Marchand was able to get in behind Ryan Pulock and tap in a goal to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
They wouldn’t hold that lead for long, though, after Ryan Pulock set up Mat Barzal, who picked a corner on Rask and once again tied the game.
Our love for Mat Barzal on the other hand: 100/10 pic.twitter.com/3WG5CUAfH4— x - Isles on MSG+ Tonight (@IslesMSGN) May 11, 2021
Varlamov, who had been stellar all game, seemed to be talking to the Isles’ training staff at the end of the period, and left the ice last, ultimately not returning to the game.
...which meant Ilya Sorokin would come in cold, but he never looked out of place in what was definitely a more defensive-minded third period.
Charlie McAvoy and Brock Nelson got into it when McAvoy put Nelson in a headlock, and both went to the box for roughing, though neither team could take advantage of the four on four.
Then things got a little unusual, as the Islanders needed a regulation win to potentially get third place in the division and face the Capitals instead of the Penguins. More important than the matchup, I suppose, would be to end the season on a significant high note, and so Barry Trotz pulled Sorokin during a tie game to give the Isles an extra skater.
Unfortunately, the Isles couldn’t do much with the extra man, and we headed to overtime, which locked the Isles into fourth in the division.
The Isles maintained possession for a lot of the OT period, earning some boos from the Bruins crowd, but Taylor Hall won the game for Boston, not that it mattered too much for the Isles at that point.
Next... it’s the playoffs! Probably not the way everyone was hoping to close out the regular season, only winning against the Rangers, but the playoffs are where it gets weird (and we haven’t seen the Penguins since February, which feels like a lifetime ago!) I feel like the team clinched the playoffs and just turned off a little bit mentally, and given all the strains of this COVID season, it’s kind of understandable. Hopefully they can turn things back on now that the games really mean something again. And hopefully we can all enjoy a long playoff run, with an increased home capacity at the Coliseum!