UNIONDALE, NY – The New York Islanders fell behind after three games for a second straight series. Each time, they’ve had three straight wins to qualify, and now they’re heading to the Stanley Cup semi-finals for the second year in a row.
Brock Nelson scored twice in New York’s three-goal second period, Semyon Varlamov blocked 23 shots and the Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night.
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock also scored to set up a rematch with defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals l last year in the bubble in Edmonton, Alta.
The schedule for the semi-finals has not been released.
“If you want to win it all, you have to beat the best,” said Nelson. “I don’t think anyone thought of taking revenge on Tampa. I just try to take each game, each set, one at a time. Now we can kind of turn the page and focus on them. It’s obviously a great team, the defending champions here again. It will be a good battle. “
Josh Bailey, who had two assists, agrees with the sentiment.
“We think we have unfinished business,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy tonight and we’re going to start preparing.
“You need everyone to beat a team like this,” he said. “Everyone in the lineup was contributing, playing the way we needed to play to get the win. Definitely happy to move on. “
Jean-Gabriel Pageau also had two assists to help New York finish Boston in front of a noisy home crowd at the Nassau Coliseum.
“Whenever you have the opportunity to shut down a team, you want to do your best,” said Nelson. “I thought we had been able to do it both times now, against Pittsburgh (in the first round) and Boston.”
After knocking out Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel of Pittsburgh in the first round, the Islanders did not have as much success against the Boston Perfection Line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron as the Bruins trio have totaled 10 goals and 12 assists in the playoffs.
“They’re an extremely talented line-up and they definitely have their chances,” New York defenseman Adam Pelech said. “I thought we did a better job as the series went on. It’s hard to stop these guys completely, they’re going to have their chance. “
However, the rest of the Bruins combined for just seven goals.
Marchand scored twice in Game 6 for Boston and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves. The Bruins, who reached the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, were eliminated in the second round for a second straight year.
“It’s a good defensive team,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “They handle the pucks a lot better than us. . “
With the Bruins on the power play, Marchand put the puck in front of the net and pushed Varlamov to the right at 5:38 of the third to reduce Boston’s deficit to 4-2. It was the fifth in the series for Marchand and the eighth in the playoffs.
The Islanders’ stifling defense limited the Bruins to just five shots on goal in the third.
The Bruins took out Rask for an extra skater with 1:25 to go, and the Islanders got empty nets in the last minute from Clutterbuck and Pulock to seal it.
After outscoring the Bruins 8-3 in the middle of the first five games, New York added three more in the second – for the third time in the series.
Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk, who took off on a breakaway and beat Rask in the upper right corner at 5:20 to give New York a 2-1 lead.
Bailey stole an out pass from Rask and fed Nelson at the net, and Nelson beat the right-side goalie with 7:23 left in the second for his second of the night and his sixth of the playoffs.
The Islanders extended their lead to 4-1 as Palmieri recovered the shot from Pelech’s point and placed it on the right side for his seventh of the playoffs.
The Islanders came on the scoreboard first as Zajac scored on the rebound of a Noah Dobson point shot 8:52 off the first for his first playoff goal.
Boston went 5-on-3 for 14 seconds late in the first period on overlapping tripping penalties against Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas. He drew chants of “New York Saints! New York Saints! ”From the crowd, a reference to what Cassidy called the Islanders when he complained about the penalty imbalance after Game 4.
“We hear some of the chants,” Bailey said. “Tonight there was an amazing atmosphere there. I think we really fed on it. “
After the first penalty expired, Marchand tied with 2:24 remaining as he got a cross pass from Pastrnak into the right circle and quickly put Varlamov high on the glove side.
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