When the NHL playoffs have games every other day (or thereabouts), the fan’s mental state is a constant roller coaster of what-ifs and this-would-be-greats interrupted by horror, anxiety, and wanting it to end mercifully if it must end — and for every team but one, it will end.
Looking back at the six games the New York Islanders needed to dispatch the Boston Bruins, Game 2 already feels like an eternity ago and I’m already confusing which game Brock Nelson came up big vs. which other games Brock Nelson came up big.
So for posterity and the day-after glow between series, here’s a quick look back. In haiku form.
Game 1: Bruins 5 (EN), Islanders 2
Every new series is a reset, and this one was jarring and confidence shaking. The Islanders were outplayed, the Bruins were running at full tilt playing in front of a packed house for the first time in over a year, and Ilya Sorokin did not continue the magic he used to vex the Penguins.
The Bruins appeared to be playing Sorokin’s pads for rebounds and stretching him out, and David Pastrnak completed a hat trick to raise the “Perfection” aura of the Bruins’ top line.
This game may have had the happy side effect of over-pumping the Bruins’ tires and turbocharging the Boston media’s superiority complex. Which, in retrospect, is delicious.
Pivotal Moment: The Isles almost survived the first-period blitz with a 1-0 lead, but the Bruins power play went to work and tied it in the final minute. The next two periods...did not go well.
Rebounds on purpose?
Ilya not the man this round
But, only one game
Game 2: Islanders 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
A completely unexpected turn: The Islanders had a two-goal third-period lead...and blew it? Then the Bruins buzzed in overtime. Things looked scary. Then Casey Cizikas took advantage of a turnover at the blueline to finish on the breakaway, an overtime highlight that will be replayed for years.
Pivotal Moment: Jeremy Lauzon makes a pass at the blueline...
You think you got us
With your Perfection comeback?
Game 3: Bruins 2, Islanders 1 (OT)
Despite the result, this game was a classic, on a knife’s edge throughout, and an example of the two teams’ similar approaches clashing until someone blinked. In front of an electric Coliseum crowd, the Bruins notched an early 1-0 game and held it well into the third.
Mathew Barzal tied it with five minutes left, hammering away at the post until the puck went in. Then the Isles came out blitzing in overtime, requiring several Tuukka Rask saves. Then Brad Marchand scored the anticlimactic winner on a nothing shot from a bad angle.
J-G Pageau: “I’m not too worried.”
Pivotal Moment: Every save Rask made in the opening minutes of OT.
Varly stopping all
Then overtime was all ours
Until that #$%& shot
Game 4: Islanders 4 (2 EN), Bruins 1
The Isles seemed to get better as the series went on, and this was the first time you could say they really got to their game from basically start to finish, excepting the usual ebbs and flows of a playoff game. Still, it was tied until late when Mathew Barzal pounced on that lobbing puck in the slot to net the winner.
Two empty net goals helped add juice to the party at the Coliseum as the Isles sent the series back to Boston tied.
Barzal: “I’ve been pretty happy with my compete level and we’re winning games. If the points aren’t there but we’re winning games, I’m okay with that.”
Pivotal Moment: Barzal sees the puck, Rask doesn’t.
Pasta’s empty net
Hall challenges Scott, regrets
Mat swats the winner
Game 5: Islanders 5, Bruins 4
After Game 4 Bruce Cassidy complained — and I can’t repeat enough how laughable this is — that his team wasn’t getting enough power plays all playoffs long. So the hockey gods responded appropriately, by having the Islanders not only get the first three power plays of Game 5 but by having them score on every one of them. That had not happened, ever, for the Isles under Barry Trotz.
The Isles ended up needing those goals, and an insurance goal by new father Brock Nelson, because the Bruins clawed two goals back to make us sweat down the stretch.
After the game, Cassidy doubled down on his officiating whining, this time drawing a $25,000 fine from the league and generating a brief “New York Saints” meme.
How did that work out for ya?
Pivotal Moment: The Isles rallied and locked things down, giving the Bruins hardly a look in the final minutes.
Bruce whining again?
Sorry only two PPs
Should try stopping ours
Game 6: Islanders 6 (2 EN), Bruins 2
Ding-dong, the Bruins are done.
The Isles scored first, but the Bruins got a couple of power plays and cashed in on the second to tie the game.
"New-York-Saints" chant gets going as Karen Cassidy gets the power plays he demanded from the league managers.— LHH & the New York Saints (@LHHockey) June 10, 2021
Things blew open in the second period, as the Islanders piled up three goals, including another beauty from Nelson. J-G Pageau’s line continued its absolute frustration of the Bruins’ “(im)perfection Line,” which couldn’t get it done at even strength.
After giving a consolation power play goal back to Marchand (you’re welcome, Bruce!) in the third, the Islanders completely locked things down. An epic smothering shift by the Identity Line and two empty net goals helped seal the deal and cap another classic Coliseum party.
Pivotal Moment: All of them. They were all glorious and fun.
Barry Trotz: “We recognize that this is a special moment for this building and the guys understood the magnitude of this game, the importance of the game. This is a group that’s very easy to — you don’t have to say too many things, just give little reminders here and there. They’re really a solid veteran group. They understand the moments and this was a moment for them.”
6 at the Coli
You knew it would go like this
Saints, YES!, handshake, golf
Up next: The gang heads to Tampa.