Being the lowest seed in a division entering playoff mode may not allow the odds to be in your favor. Over the last two seasons, the New York Islanders have proven that statement to be nothing but fiction.
After shocking the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1 with a 4-2 series win, the Islanders once again faced a tough playoff series matchup against the Boston Bruins, known for having one of the top-notched lines in the NHL featuring Patrice Bergeron, David Pasternak, and Brad Marchand.
After both teams secured their first two wins of the series at home and on the road, the Islanders set up the stage for a break after defeating the Bruins in Game 5 with a 5-4 win, holding off the Bruins’ 3rd-period comeback attempt for the second time in the series after the first came in Game 2 when Boston tied the game, forced OT, but allowed Casey Cizikas to get a breakaway OT game-winning goal.
In Game 6, the Islanders struck first after Travis Zajac got his first goal of the postseason, and making it the second game in the series where New York got the first goal of the game, the first coming in Game 1 when the Islanders struck first but lost 5-2.
After back-to-back penalties on Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas, Brad Marchand managed to get past Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov and tie the game at 1 with 2:24 left in the first period.
Entering the second period, the Islanders captured the same 2nd-period fire they had against Boston in Game 2 as Brock Nelson got the goal on a breakaway attempt 5:20 into the period, followed by another goal 7:19 later. Finally, Kyle Palmieri continued his successful postseason by getting his 7th and unassisted goal with less than 4 minutes in the period.
The Islanders took a 4-1 lead entering the 3rd period, but still looked to stay serious to fend off yet another comeback attempt by the Bruins, and it did seem that way after Marchand scored another power-play goal off a Matt Martin tripping penalty to cut the deficit to 2 with 14:22 left in the 3rd.
However, the Islanders would stay strong defensively throughout the rest of the period and score back-to-back empty net goals with less than a minute to goal 11 seconds apart by Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock, making it a 6-2 victory for the Islanders at the Coliseum.
Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask both had 23 saves while Brad Marchand and Brock Nelson each had 2 goals apiece.
With this season the final at the Nassau Coliseum, the win allows the Coliseum to see more games for the time being as the Islanders win in Round 2 for the second year in a row and prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who they faced in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay is coming off a 4-1 series win over the Carolina Hurricanes and is looking to defend their Stanley Cup title. Last season, the Lightning defeated the Islanders with a 4-2 series win in a double-overtime win in Game 6.
With the Round 2 win, the Islanders make it back-to-back semifinal appearances for the first time since 1979-84 and will play the first two games of the semifinals at the Amalie Arena in Tampa as the Lightning had more points than the Islanders to end the regular season. Dates and times will be announced at a later date.