UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The last time the New York Islanders hosted a Stanley Cup Semifinals game at the Nassau Coliseum, the New York Saints still existed and called the Coliseum home.
After Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy invoked the memory of the defunct professional lacrosse team two days prior, the Islanders put on a heavenly performance on Wednesday night to defeat Boston 6-2 to clinch the series and return to the semifinals.
New York will get another go at the Tampa Bay Lightning, who defeated the Islanders in six games last year during the bubble.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us seeing them again in the semifinals,” Anthony Beauvilliersaid. “We’re just taking a lot of pride in what we do to get back to the spot we were in last year with some unfinished business, it’s a great opportunity and we’re looking forward to it.”
Brock Nelson scored twice in the second period to erase a 1-1 tie and Kyle Palmieri added his seventh goal of the playoffs in the second. Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock sealed the game with a pair of empty-net goals in the final minute, and Travis Zajac had the game’s first goal for New York.
“It was awesome. The place was rocking tonight,” Nelson said about the atmosphere at the Coliseum. “The fans were feeding us energy. The team played great. It was one of those nights you’ll always remember moments like that. Big game, big team effort. It just feels good having a full Coliseum behind you and playing for them.”
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) June 10, 2021
Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves on Boston for his fourth win of the postseason, which have all come in the Islanders Second Roun series with Boston.
“We just try to play a good game. That’s all it comes down to,” Josh Bailey said. “Pager and Case’s line got more of Bergeron’s line and they did a great job with the commitment they showed, the work ethic, we followed their lead tonight.”
The Islanders opened the game up in the second period with three goals in the middle frame. New York capitalized on three critical errors by Boston in their own end and in the neutral zone.
Matt Grzelcyk had his pocket picked near center ice by Nelson for the breakaway. The Islanders forward quickly skated into the attacking zone and put the puck past the glove of Tuukka Rask for the 2-1 lead at 5:20 of the second.
Nelson picked up his second goal of the night at the 12:39 mark after Boston turned over the puck in their own end. Josh Bailey prevented a clearing attempt by Rask and was able to quickly feed Nelson down low for the goal.
Brock Nelson AGAIN!
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 10, 2021
Grzelcyk had his pocket picked again, this time in front of Rask, by Palmieri, who pushed the puck past the Boston netminder to make it 4-1.
The three-goal second period continued the Islanders’ dominance in the middle frame during their series with Boston, New York outscored Boston 11-3 in the second period over the six-game series.
Brad Marchand scored his second of the game on the power play at 5:38 of the third to cut the Islanders lead to 4-2, but New York clamped down and allowed just three shots on net the rest of the way.
Clutterbuck scored the empty-net goal at 19:01 and Pulock scored his 11 seconds later.
“We recognized this was a special moment for this building,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “Guys understood the magnitude of this game and the importance of this game. This is a group that’s very easy — you don’t have to say many things.”
Zajac put the Islanders on the board first Wednesday night. It marked the first time since Game 1 that the Islanders had scored the first goal of a game in the series.
Noah Dobson flung a shot from the point onto the net and Rask was able to make the save, but the rebound went to Zajac in front of the net to put New York up 1-0 at 8:52 of the first period. The goal was Zajac’s first of the playoffs and just his second since joining the Islanders via trade just before the trade deadline in April.
TRAVIS ZAJAC! 🚨
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 9, 2021
Boston managed to even the game back up with a late first-period power-play goal. Anthony Beauvillier was called for a tripping penalty and just as the Islanders were about to kill it off, Casey Cizikas got called for another trip.
Boston capitalized on the extended power play and Brad Marchand finished a crisp, cross-ice pass from David Pastrnak to tie the game with 2:24 left in the opening period.
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