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New York Islanders

4 Straight Goals, Islanders Late Rally Beats Caps in Game 1



Islanders Capitals game 1 win

Just call them the never say die-landers.

The Islanders scored four goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit and defeat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 1 of their First Round series. It was Josh Bailey’s shorthanded goal 6:52 into the third period that served as the game-winner and gave the Islanders their first lead of the afternoon.

Braden Holtby had the puck taken off of his stick by Brock Nelson, who was able to feed Bailey for the open look.

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“He ended up playing (the puck) and I just wanted to put a little bit of pressure on him,” Nelson said. “Found a loose puck and then Bails just coming right down the slot. He’s wide open and good finish.”

It was the second consecutive year that Bailey has played the hero in Game 1 of a playoff contest. Last year, Bailey scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the opening game of the Islanders First Round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bailey again found his name on the score sheet when he set up Anthony Beauvillier for a goal at 11:52 to make it 4-2.

“I think we just stayed even-keeled,” Lee said about the third-period effort. “Settled down a little bit. I think the first two periods we were a pretty emotional group on the bench. It was a back and forth game and we were down two at one point. Just crawling our way back carried us and we played a pretty smart finishing period.”

The comeback win wiped away a lackluster effort through the first 40 minutes of the game, which saw the Isles take six penalties over a 36-minute span. They had mustered just two shots on goal in the first period and were outshot 16-13 through the first two periods.

Wednesday’s Game 1 marked a physical start to the series between the Isles and Caps. The two teams jostled and played hardnosed hockey to start the game in the first. Not even three minutes into the game a scrap had broken out after Anders Lee caught Nicklas Backstrom awkwardly.

Later Lee dropped the gloves with Tom Wilson.

“You just have to keep your composure. It’s going to be a physical series,” Lee said after the game. “They’re going to egg you around and we’re going to respond the same way. You have to be smart about it. Know when to take one and know when to lay off a little bit.”

T.J. Oshie scored the first of his two power-play goals just over five minutes into the second period. The Capitals forward was the recipient of a lucky bounce off the backboards off a shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The shot hit off the skate of an Islanders defender and went right to Oshie for the goal.

Oshie extended the Capitals lead at the 11:18 mark on the second. During a scramble in front, Oshie was able to jam the puck through the pads of Varlamov for the power-play tally.

The Islanders managed to find the back of the net with 1:03 left in the second to pull themselves back into the game. Eberle scored from the high slot after taking the pass from Mat Barzal to cut the Capitals lead to 2-1.

Anders Lee tied the game 51 seconds into the third period off a rebound goal in front of the net. Ryan Pulock sent a blast from the point that Holtby stopped, but Lee was there for the putback to make it a 2-2 game.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game



The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+



Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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New York Islanders

AIR JORDAN! Eberle Scores Twice as Islanders Down Devils



Jordan Eberle scores for the New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Jordan Eberle scored his first two goals of the year as the New York Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Nassau Coliseum.

The two-goal effort from Eberle came on a night that the Islanders’ top-six forwards contributed to all four of the team’s goals. Eberle, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson combined for six points.

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“You want to get off to a good start,” Eberle said. “You put the puck in once and you start to feel it especially when you get into game three, four, five. You want to contribute. My linemates, we created a few chances and we had some good looks the past few games. We hit a few posts and we just haven’t really capitalized. It’s nice that we finished a few off today.”

Eberle’s two-goal night was his first the Aug. 4 against the Florida Panthers during the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Barzal had his first three-point performance (one goal, two assists) since March 5 against Ottawa and Nelson’s third-period goal was his second of the season.

Thursday’s win over New Jersey played out in a similar fashion to the New York Islanders season-opening win over the New York Rangers. They dominated the first period, outshooting New Jersey 15-6, and scoring twice before having to hold off a push from the Garden State visitors in the second.

“The first period was more of our identity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “New Jersey has some really good speed. … I thought we just played the right way. We jumped on them. They’ve been a quick start team. I thought that was key and then getting that late goal was good. I thought we had enough chances, enough zone time that we should have been getting that second goal.”

Semyon Varlamov helped fend off the second-period surge by New Jersey, but had his shutout streak snapped at 142:10 after Nathan Bastian scored from the high slot. Varlamov’s shutout streak from the start of the season was the eighth longest in NHL history.

Varlamov’s job was made easier by the Islanders’ strong power play on Thursday, which converted on two of its three chances against New Jersey. Both came in the third period and allowed the Islanders to fortify their lead.

“I think last two years he’s been pretty consistent the whole way through,” Barzal said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a stretch where he hasn’t played well. To start the season, it’s really nice to see him come back and just kind of dominate in net. He just looks calm and feels real secure with him in between the pipes.”

Already up 2-1, Eberle cashed in quick on an early third-period power play for the Islanders. A shot by Noah Dobson missed the net and bounced right to Eberle, who was able to beat Scott Wedgewood from a tough angle.

Nelson scored the Islanders’ second power-play goal of the night at 5:16 of the third. He was able to deflect a Nick Leddy shot past  Wedgewood to give the Isles a three-goal lead.

Josh Bailey Plays Against New Jersey After Coming Off COVID Protocol List

The New York Islanders jumped to an early lead less than five minutes into the game. Barzal took the puck from his own end and into the offensive zone, where he fired a blistering shot into the corner of the net to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

After controlling the play and keeping the Puck in New Jersey’s end for most of the first period, the Islanders found paydirt again with 20.9 seconds left in the first. Barzal did a good job to force a New Jersey turnover in the Islanders end and then quickly move the puck up to Anders Lee.

The Islanders captain muscled the puck past PK Subban to Eberle, who put the backhander past Scott Wedgewood.

New Jersey cut the Islanders lead to one in the second period. A shot by Bastian from the high slot got by Varlamov for New Jersey’s only goal.

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