The New York Islanders already had a playoff spot locked up but could’ve moved into the third seed with a regulation win.
Despite a late push, the Islanders couldn’t get it done and lost to the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in overtime on a spectacular individual effort from Taylor Hall.
So as the regular season comes to a close, the Islanders know they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the postseason.
“Every matchup is gonna be hard in this division,” Nick Leddy said of the postseason outlook. “But you look [Pittsburgh’s] year, they’ve been playing excellent — especially the back half of the year.”
Barry Trotz was pleased with the team’s effort as it prepares for what’s ahead.
“It’s certainly not going to hurt, that’s for sure,” Trotz said. “It was a playoff-style game, they came out hard, we took some penalties. … We battled through all that, which is probably good for us.”
Let’s take a look at the details of the last regular season game.
Tie-game goalie pull
Ah yes, the normal 2-2 game in the waning minutes leading to an empty net on one end and 6-on-5 hockey.
Well, the Islanders needing a regulation win to give them a chance at the third spot in the East tried their best to get that final goal at the end of the third period. There just wasn’t enough of a final push to get a shot past Tuukka Rask and the Islanders played a meaningless overtime.
Second period push
Second periods have been incredibly unfriendly to the Islanders, but this night, they thrived in the middle frame. With goals from Oliver Wahlstrom and Mathew Barzal, the Islanders headed into the third period with a tie score.
“We don’t come out of the gates like that because there’s another team on the other side, it’s their home building,” Barzal said. “They know what was at stake. … It’s a good hockey team over there. It’s not going to be 60 minutes of us pressuring with the possession. When you do find it, you want to keep it as long as you can.”
Wahlstrom ripped a one-timer from the left side off a feed from Barzal on the power play. But it was Barzal’s goal in the second that was arguably more impressive.
Our love for Mat Barzal on the other hand: 100/10 pic.twitter.com/3WG5CUAfH4
— x – Isles on MSG+ Tonight (@IslesMSGN) May 11, 2021
With three Bruins surrounding him, Barzal cut from the left circle and into the middle before roofing a wrist shot over Rask’s blocker side. Barzal played well against the Bruins the season, notching seven points in eight games.
For the year, he finished with a team-leading 45 points.
Statistically speaking, it was the Islanders’ best period of the game. They split the shots at 5-on-5 and were rewarded with two goals.
Semyon Varlamov played the first two periods but was not in between the pipes for the start of the third. Ilya Sorokin came in for the final 20 minutes of regulation and then overtime.
Coming in cold, Sorokin was sharp and made 10 saves on 11 chances, only missing Hall’s overtime winner. For all things considered, Sorokin put in a stellar effort to give the Islanders a chance.
After the game, Trotz said Varlamov “had a little strain” and likely could have played the rest of the way. But the team didn’t want to risk injuring him further by sending him out for the third period.
Added Trotz: “If it was a playoff game I’m pretty sure he would’ve finished.”
Hall kills Islanders again
The new Boston forward already had three goals against the Islanders coming into the year and book-ended the scoring Monday night with a 5-on-3 tally and then the overtime strike.
Taylor Hall wins it for the Bruins in overtime.
What a goal. pic.twitter.com/1Bx4NX54kX
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 11, 2021
He finishes with five goals against the Islanders this year, the most he’s scored against any opponent.