UNIONDALE, NY – For the second time in three years, the New York Islanders did an outstanding job in shutting down Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin, scoring some timely goals and now reaching the second round of the playoffs.
Brock Nelson scored twice in New York’s three-goal second period and the Islanders defeated Pittsburgh 5–3 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to set up a matchup with Boston in the next round.
A second round schedule has not been announced.
“I felt we showed a lot of flexibility,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I like our flexibility, I like our physicality, I like our details. … A lot of good stuff. I liked the bounce of scoring three goals in about three minutes there (in the second period). And then we fought. . “
After winning a postseason series in a span of 25 years – in 2014 – the Islanders have advanced past the first round for the third straight year under Trotz.
“It’s a special place, a special group,” Nelson said. “Everyone wants to go out there and win and compete for the Stanley Cup and elevate it, so to make some progress and get closer, it’s awesome. It’s fun.”
Anthony Beauvillier scored one goal and two assists, and Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Pulak also scored for the Islanders. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pejo added two assists each.
Ilya Sorokin made 34 saves in the clinic with a 48-save performance in Game 5 and went 4–0 with 1.95 goals-against average in the series. He made seven saves in the first period, finishing with 150 in his four starts, with 15 in the second and 12 in the third. Sorokin stabilized the islanders when Simeon Varlamov, who performed brilliantly during the season, suffered a loss in Games 2 and 3.
“It takes everyone in these series but obviously Ilya grew up, especially the last game in Pittsburgh,” Pulak said. “That was incredible. That’s what you need to win and we got it in both players and yes, it was great.
Jason Zucker had one goal and one assist for Pittsburgh, and Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel also scored. Tristan Jerry scored 19 goals.
Crosby was limited to one goal and one assist in the series, and Malkin – who missed the first two games with an undisclosed injury – had one goal and four assists in four games. Guentzel had just one goal and one assist in six games, with 23 goals and 34 assists during the season.
Zucker led the Penguins 3–2 with their third lead of the game as they outscored Sorokin by Evgeny Malkin at 1:53 of the second period.
The Islanders then took the lead with two goals in a span of 13 seconds. He tied it at 8:35 as Beauvillier brought the ice up, right to Josh Bailey. Bailey sent Nelson a cross-ice laser pass to the left and he quickly defeated Jari.
Out of a faceoff in the right circle in the offensive zone, Pejo sent the puck back to Pulak to the right point and he fired a slap shot through Jerry through traffic to give New York its first lead of the night.
The Islanders made it 5–3 in less than 3 minutes, as Beauvillier brought the puck up the middle, dropping a pass back to Nelson, who fired it for a second night from a pass by Jari, with 8:26 left The middle period was left to draw. A roar of thunder from the crowd.
“I think we did a good job by sticking to our game plan and obviously benefited from it in the second round,” said Beauvillier, who scored three goals and one assist in the series. “We were at the top in our game tonight. It was a distinct Islander win.”
The Penguins came to the scoreboard 1:27 into the game when Carter received a pass from Kaspari Kapanen and beat Sorokin through a five-hole for the fourth of the series.
Beauvillier, whom Carter had beaten the ice on his goal, tied it for New York at 5:16 as he overtook Crosby, receiving a pass from Nelson and a backhander over the brook towards the glove.
Pittsburgh took the lead in the power play as Guentzell fired a shot that overtook Islanders defensemen Pulak and Sorokin with 8:48 left in the first.
The Islanders tied it again after 1:13, as Palmeri knocked in a rebound of a shot from Pejo.
During the regular season, the Islanders won five of the eight against the Bruins, with Boston winning the last three meetings in the final month of the season.
Nassau Coliseum’s capacity was increased to 9,000. This was increased to 1,700 during the season after fans were allowed to participate, and it was raised to 6,800 for Games 3 and 4 of the series.
“It was incredible,” Pulak said. “They’ve come out of this whole series. They came out when they could in the regular season and they brought it in tonight and we needed an extra boost.”
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