The Islanders couldn’t have asked for much more in Game 1 of their Qualifying Round series with the Florida Panthers.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau found the back of the net, Anthony Beauvillier scored on the power play and the Islanders came away with a 2-1 win on Saturday afternoon. Add to that a strong 27 save performance from Semyon Varlamov.
It was the type of game that Barry Trotz preaches for his team to play. The Islanders controlled the pace of the game early and when the Panthers finally pushed back in the third period, New York quickly took away the momentum.
“I think we did a pretty good job of playing to our structure,” Ryan Pulock said. “I think coming into tonight we knew that was going to be a big part of it. Just getting back to our structure and that’s what has made us successful before. Throughout the game we did a pretty good job of that.
“Just sticking with it and playing the way we like to play.”
Varlamov came away with some big stops in the middle of the second period and in the third, and the Islanders clamped down on the Panthers offense after their early third-period goal.
New York held Florida to 28 shots on net, which is impressive since Florid had averaged 32.7 shots per game during the regular season.
The Islanders did suffer a small set back in the win. The team was forced to play five defensemen after Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period after taking a hit from Mike Matheson.
“Once we settled into our game our first (period) was good. I think our bench was really good,” Trotz said. “I liked our focus even on the hit when Johnny went down. Our response was to score on a power play. you didn’t see us taking an undisciplined penalty. I liked our response.
“The best way to respond after a hit or whatever is a goal on the power play.”
Beauvillier picked up where he had left off from Wednesday’s exhibition match against the Rangers The 23-year-old forward was tied for second in shots on goal for the Islanders with four in Game 1. His second-period goal on the man-advantage turned out to be the game-winner.
FIVE-HOLE! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Xsc5u8UlnL
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) August 1, 2020
initially, Beauvillier had his shot blocked by Noel Accari, but he was able to push the rebound out to the point. The Islanders forward worked his way back to the right side faceoff circle, where Devon Toews fed him for the one-timer at 3:39 of the second period and put the Islanders up 2-0.
The power-play tally was Beauvillier’s second career postseason goal.
“You hate to see a guy go down and then when you have the opportunity on the man-advantage you want to capitalize,” Brock Nelson said about the power-play goal. “Special teams is going to play a huge part of these games. We were able to get one and that was huge for us. The momentum and that can be the difference in a game. The power play has to come through.”
Florida managed to pull within one of the Islanders 23 seconds into the third period. Jonathan Huberdeau was able to cut to the front of the net and then put the puck through the legs of Varlamov with a backhand shot.
The Islanders wouldn’t surrender another goal after that.
Pageau’s goal came 12 minutes into the first period to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Tom Kuhnhackl’s forecheck led to the Panthers turning over the puck to Derick Brassard.
Brassard quickly moved the puck to Pageau, who was charging to the front of the net.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) August 1, 2020