The New York Islanders absorbed early Penguins pressure, shot high on Tristan Jarry, survived an otherworldly tip and a third-period deficit, shot high on Tristan Jarry, blew a likely game-winner 31 seconds after scoring it, then shot high on Tristan Jarry to win Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.
Fun fact: It’s Pittsburgh’s 10th loss in its last 11 playoff games.
The highlights went to OT game-winner Kyle Palmieri, who also opened playoff scoring as a satisfaction-deferred trade deadline acquisition like J-G Pageau before him, and Ilya Sorokin, who stretched in ways that injure lesser goalies.
There are lingering concerns — any one of the Islanders’ bottom four blueliners at different times — but we saw a team organized and determined in four-line unison, like they really can “flip the switch” for the playoffs.
About Islanders-Penguins Game 1
- Highs and lows, big saves, near-misses, and a bunch of shots over Jarry. [LHH | NHL | Post Gazette]
- Big spark by Pageau, both offensively and minding the draws. [Newsday]
- That topic and others in 7 takeaways from Game 1. [Athletic]
- Or 5 Takeaways if you’re more into the whole brevity thing. [Isles]
- And yes, Kyle Palmieri picked an ideal time to announce his arrival to the cause. [Isles Blog] Just another Kyle wearing 21, tormenting the Pens.
- “Beating the Pens 4-3, the Islanders improve to 37-21 all-time in playoff overtimes. That .638 win percentage is only 2nd to TBL’s .677 all-time among NHL franchises. Of the 24 teams to have played at least 32 such games, the Isles rank 1st (Next best: .615 by ANA)” [@StatsCentre]
- In his first NHL playoff appearance, Ilya Sorokin matched the Isles franchise record for most saves by a rookie goaltender in a postseason contest set by Kelly Hrudey (Game 2 of 1985 DSF) [NHL PR]
- You know that more often than not, those and other stats originate with Eric Hornick. [NYI Skinny]
- Tough night for Jarry, though he had some big-save moments too. [Trib Live]
- Surely the Penguins wouldn’t risk creating a self-inflicted goalie confidence issue, but if Casey DeSmith remains day to day. [Trib Live]
- They were also without Evgeni Malkin for Game 1. [Post Gazette | Sportsnet]
Various love and info via tweets
I’m going to make a leap and say that no one had a better night than these two Islanders fans, positioned perfectly behind the net and among the Penguins fan pods to view the OT winner:
Barry on the Pageau and Palmieri:
“If you look at the two trade deadline acquisitions, last year Pageau, this year Palmieri, they're veteran guys that are proven. When it comes to playoff hockey, in big moments you rely on their experience. Their character is exceptional.”— x - New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 16, 2021
Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/yq1AyQHgva
Let us not forget this pretty big defensive moment from Josh Bailey:
On Varly’s status:
Trotz: "We had to make a decision last night on Varlamov, he will practice again tomorrow. We have two capable goalies. Let's do what's right, not risk anything here, give him another day of practice and he'll be 100%." #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) May 16, 2021
Coach Sullivan: "I know we have more to give. We have the ability to be a better team. It was a really even game, I think, and that's what we expected. We just got to make sure we learn from this, see what we can take from it and get ready for the next one."— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) May 16, 2021
Beyond the Island and Western Pennsylvania
While Isles-Pens Game 1 was quite satisfying, perhaps moreso with its delayed gratification, the series I’ve most looked forward to from an entertainment perspective was Panthers-Lightning. There is the overdue Battle of Florida aspect, but also two entertaining but differently constructed teams.
Last night’s Game 1, it, well, it delivered:
Lightning-Panthers Game 1 featured four lead changes, 78 shots on goal (39 each), five 4-on-4 situations because of matching minors, 91 hits (54-37 FLA), and stars producing, like Kucherov (2g-1a-3p), Huberdeau (1-2-3), Point (2-0-2), Barkov (1-1-2) and Hedman (0-3-3).— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) May 17, 2021
- Lightning-Panthers had a bit of everything. [NBC Sports]
- Last night’s other* score had the Wild beating Vegas 1-0 in overtime. [NHL] *Technically, the Flames and Canucks also played. Again. Because why not.
- The Candiens expect Carey Price, Shea Weber and Brendan Gallagher to all be ready for game one Thursday against the Leafs. [NHL]
- Sportsnet ran the data and has determined that these four teams (Toronto, Florida, Pittsburgh, Evgas) are under the most pressure as the playoffs begin. [Sportsnet]
- Gerard Gallant would welcome a return to Columbus, and John Tortorella wanted out even before the season started. [Athletic]
- The Canucks need help, and management changes or additions may be in the works. [Province] Perhaps it will be Geoff Courtnall in a “buffer” kind of front-office role. [Province]
- The Globe & Mail debases itself by running this meandering column ripping Sidney Crosby for being still good but boring in interviews and so clearly he and the Penguins should part ways because he’s not a winner anymore. I think his point is that Crosby should be with the Canadiens now. [Globe & Mail]