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It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Islanders Shutout Flyers in Game 1 Win

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New York Islanders celebrate goal

If anyone was still questioning Lou Lamoriello’s decision to add Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Game 1 of the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers Second Round series is a reminder of why they were added.

Greene and Pageau each scored for the Islanders and Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves to lead the Islanders to a 4-0 win. The deadline acquisitions bookended the game with goals in the first and third periods and Varlamov held the Flyers at bay in the middle 20 minutes.

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Anders Lee added a goal of his own and Devon Toews scored an empty netter.

“We went into this game looking at ourselves and going out there making sure we did what we needed to do,” Lee said. “I think we did a pretty good job of jumping on and getting the first goal. Greener and (Brock Nelson) making that play I think that really gave us some jump. And Varly stood on his head a few times. … I think we, for the most part, were able to put two periods together that made the difference.”

The win puts the New York Islanders ahead 1-0 in the series, which is their first postseason meeting with Philadelphia since the 1987 playoffs. The Flyers historically have gotten the better of the Islanders, with New York’s only series victory coming in the 1980 Stanley Cup Final.

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Varlamov did his best to channel his inner Billy Smith during the second period. The New York Islanders netminder was peppered with shots throughout the middle frame as the Flyers titled the ice in their favor. Philadelphia finished the second with 15 shots on net, but failed to get one by Varlamov.

The Game 1 win was the second consecutive shutout Varlamov has had in the playoffs. He has not surrendered a goal in 136:20.

“The guys played unbelievable again today in front of me,” Varlamov said when asked about his performance. “Greener made some big saves in the first period, so I appreciate that. It feels good to get back-to-back shutouts, but at this point it’s not about shutouts. It’s about playoff hockey. For me, the most important thing is to get the win and get ready for the next game.

“I’m not really focusing on that right now. Of course, I am excited about it, I’m not going to lie, but it is what it is.”

It was the Islanders deadline pickups who led the charge offensively in the series-opening win. Both Greene and Pageau have proven invaluable to the Islanders since the postseason started earlier this month.

Greene recorded his first goal of the postseason and has been a stabilizing force on the blue line after Johnny Boychuk was injured in the first game of the Qualifying Round. Greene made a stellar defensive play in the first period when he came up with a big block on a Claude Giroux.

“We’re a team from top to bottom,” Andy Greene said when asked about his impact. “We need every single guy out there. Every night. Every game and when we do that we’re a very good team. … It’s just not about one guy. it’s about the group of five and six of us out on the ice there.”

Pageau now has five goals in the playoffs, which is second-most among all Islanders forwards.

Greene scored at the 6:06 mark of the first period off a shot from the point. The Islanders defenseman was able to get the slapshot off uncontested after receiving a pass from  Brock Nelson.

The goal snapped a 40-game postseason goalless drought for Greene, which dated back to April 16, 2010. Greene is the 10th NHL player to go 10 or more years between playoff goals.

The Islanders made it a two-goal lead 2:54 into the third period. Ross Johnston and Leo Komarov forced the puck away from the Flyers behind Carter Hart’s net and fed a wide-open Pageau for the goal.

New York extended the lead to 3-0 with a goal from Lee off the rush at the 8:50 mark of the third. Toews scored on the empty net at 12:21.

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