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New York Islanders

Game 6 Heartbreak: Islanders Lose in Double OT, Flyers Force Game 7



New York Islanders

Ivan Provorov dashed the New York Islanders dreams of advancing to the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday and forced a Game 7 between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Provorov scored with 4:57 left in double overtime to lift the Flyers to a 5-4 win in Game 6. It was the third time the Islanders and Flyers have gone to overtime this series, but this was the first time Philadelphia rallied to force the extra time.

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Game 7 will be on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The game-winning-goal began in the Philadelphia end after Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield broke his stick on a shot attempt. Philadelphia transitioned against the stickless defenseman and Philadelphia center Kevin Hayes set up Provorov, who buried the chance behind Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov.

“We had plenty of chances. I thought we had a pretty good game,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I didn’t like a couple of our decisions that they capitalized on. We had lots of chances to win that hockey game. That’s the tough part about the game and the playoff is that it can change. … There’s stuff that’s not in our control and you just have to battle through.”

This is the first time in the playoffs that the Islanders have faced a challenge like this. They dropped consecutive games for the first time in the postseason as well.

The Islanders played as well as they could have hoped for during the 60-plus minute affair. New York ended the game with a 53-31 edge in shots and out-attempted the Flyers 107-75.

The penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 and the power play capitalized on a chance in the second period. However, it was little mistakes that cost the Islanders in the end.

“Our effort was there tonight, but this is the playoffs,” Derick Brassard said. “Those games are always really close and it didn’t go our way tonight.”

Scott Laughton evened the game at four with 10:07 left in the third period. The Islanders turned over the puck in the puck, which allowed Laughton to breakout and roof a shot past Semyon Varlamov.

Barzal’s second-period goal broke a 3-3 tie after Derick Brassard forced a turnover in the Philadelphia zone. Barzal picked up the loose puck and danced around the defense before putting the puck over the shoulder of Flyers starter Carter Hart.

The loss was the third time in this series that the Islanders have lost in overtime. Game 2 and Game 5 also went into extra periods. Thursday’s game was the fourth-longest game in New York Islanders history.

“The frustration level is honestly about 30 seconds and then that’s about it,” Barzal said. “There’s nothing we can do. Game 6 is over now and we’ve moved on. It’s an unfortunate play that happens there at the end, but it happens. Now it’s a winner take Game 7, so we’ve turned the page in the last 10 minutes. We had a nice team talk after the game quickly and move on.”

Brassard, Matt Martin and Anders Lee also scored for the Islanders and Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves. Carter Hart stopped 49 shots for Philadelphia.

It was Matt Martin’s early second-period goal that tied the game at one. Martin scored off an odd-man rush after Cal Clutterbuck moved the puck over to him in the slot for his fourth goal of the playoffs.

Mat Barzal Records Big Points After Concern Over Game 6 Availability

The Flyers attempted to challenge the goal and when it was confirmed a good goal, the Islanders made them pay on the ensuing power play.

Anders Lee put the Islanders up 3-2 off a rebound goal after Hart stopped Barzal’s initial shot. The Flyers evened the game at three later in the period when Michael Raffl scored on a rebound goal of his own.

Despite a strong start from the Islanders, it was the Flyers that opened the scoring. It was a lackadaisical clear by Lee that led to a turnover in the neutral zone.

The Flyers came charging into the zone and Kevin Hayes buried a shot from the slot to make it 1-0.

Philadelphia made it 2-0 off another Islanders turnover, this time in the offensive zone. The Flyers rushed up the ice and James van Riemsdyk beat Varlamov with a hard slapshot.

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New York Islanders

Islanders Players React After Eye Injury Ends Johnny Boychuk’s Career



Johnny Boychuk

It wasn’t too loo long after Johnny Boychuk announced he was ending his 13-year NHL career that the reaction from current and former teammates started to pour in.

Johnny Boychuk spent the past six seasons as a member of the New York Islanders and the guys he took the ice with on a nightly basis praised the 36-year-old defenseman for the person and player he was. Part of the legacy Boychuk leaves behind from his time on Long Island was just how important a leader he was in the locker room.

All of that showed as players reacted to the news on social media.

“It’s been an honor to share the ice with you,” Anthony Beauvillier wrote on Instagram. “Proud to call you a friend. You’ll truly be missed. Much love JB”

Others took to Twitter to wish Boychuk well in his post-playing days and share their memories of playing alongside him.

Even former Islanders netminder Robin Lehner took a moment to honor his former teammate.

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New York Islanders

Arnold: Johnny Boychuk Helped Change Perception, Culture of New York Islanders



New York Islanders Defenceman Johnny Boychuk (55) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators

Johnny Boychuk paused several times during his Zoom call with the reporters less than an hour after news broke that his 13 year NHL career had come to an end. The emotions of the moment getting the better of him for a second or two.

The often goofy Boychuk tried to remain his usual self, but the sadness of the situation was clearly visible as Boychuk discussed the previous few months and how an eye injury he suffered in March had led to the end of his playing days.

Johnny Boychuk looked back fondly at the past six years that he spent with the Islanders, where he appeared in 404 games and recorded 35 goals and 95 assists. He recalled how he spent a majority of that time partnered with Nick Leddy, who was acquired within hours of Boychuk back on Oct. 4, 2014.

And the 36-year-old defenseman discussed how his greatest memory of being an Islander was the people he came across.

“Meeting the people on the Island,” Boychuk started to say before pausing to regain his composure. “From the arena attendants to the security guards to the media. The players, the coaches, the staff. I mean the management, the owners. Meeting all these great people. There have been so many good memories. … It’s tough to process everything at one time.”

What became abundantly clear in the hours after Boychuk announced the end of his career was the place he holds in Islanders fans’ hearts.

Yes, Johnny Boychuk won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and spent six years in Beantown, but some of his most significant contributions came during his time on Long Island. And the biggest was the faith he showed when re-signing with the Islanders in 2015.

The signing went well beyond just making the Islanders a better team, it helped start to chip away at the perception that Long Island wasn’t a place top-tier talent wanted to stay. What Boychuk, and subsequently Leddy, gave the Islanders was a sense of credibility back that they had been lacking for some time.

“I’d seen it before where guys would come to the Island and they would leave within a year or two,” Boychuk said on Wednesday. “When I got traded to the Island we had a good group of young players, but now they’re veteran players. They’ve got experience and I think a lot of guys see potential in the Islanders. It’s a good place to play, to be with your family and to have a bond together as a team. It will continue to just get better and better.

“I think the fans realized it. I didn’t realize it at the time when I first got traded, but after being there a year I realized what it was to be an Islander and you take pride in it.”

Boychuk made an indelible mark on the Islanders organization through leadership on and off the ice. He won over fans through his gritty style of play and give it all attitude. Boychuk left it all on the ice with every shift.

He nearly brought the roof down in 2015 during a desperation clear in the closing seconds of the second period of Game 3 of the Islanders First Round series against Washington. And there were plenty more moments like that throughout his time on Long Island.

Boychuk may have never won a Stanley Cup with the Islanders, but he helped change the culture and perception of an organization that needed it. While he may not be retiring on the terms he would have liked, Boychuk can take some solace in knowing the franchise is in a much better place now than it was when he arrived.

“I think everybody has seen the transformation of how the team did that to themselves,” Boychuk said. “With Lou (Lamoriello) and Barry (Trotz) coming in halfway through my time on the Island it’s just been getting better and better as well. It will continue to get better and better because we play together and we play for each other, and we always will.”

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New York Islanders

Johnny Boychuk’s Career Ends Due to Eye Injury



Johnny Boychuk

The NHL career of Johnny Boychuk came to an end on Wednesday after 13 seasons.

The New York Islanders announced that Boychuk’s time in the NHL had come to an end due to an eye injury he suffered during the regular season. Boychuk was clipped by the skate of the Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen on March 3 just above his eyelid.

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The gruesome injury required 90 stitches to repair the cut, but it did not preclude Johnny Boychuk from playing briefly during the postseason this year. While Boychuk did appear in three games during the playoffs over the summer, he did begin to feel the injury start to become an issue again.

“I kind of felt it in the bubble a little bit, but when I got out I started to work out and I really realized there was something wrong,” Boychuk said during a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon. “I went and got it checked out and after I got it checked out I let Lou know what was going on. It’s been two months of doctors and MRIs and X-Rays. It’s been a while.”

After months of tests and exams, the results Boychuk got back were eye-opening, he said during the call. Doctors told the veteran defenseman that his prereferral vision was “pretty bad” and that there was some optic nerve damage.

Doctors even went as far as to tell Boychuk that some of the damage to his eye was irreversible. The news was serious enough that it took any decision Boychuk was going to have right out of his hands.

“When somebody tells you you’re not going to play again or you shouldn’t or else you’re going to get seriously hurt it’s been really tough,” he said. “I don’t even think it was a decision. When you play with it and realize there’s something wrong and then you go and get tests. It wasn’t really a decision, it was a life choice.

“If I was to go play again and not being able to see somebody coming and getting hit, I could be a lot worse than what I was.”

While Boychuk’s career is coming to an end, the 36-year-old wasn’t quite sure if he was officially retiring or if he was being placed on LTIR. Boychuk had two years remaining on his contract and the Islanders would be able to use his $6 million cap hit if they put him on LTIR.

The Islanders have a mere $3.9 million in cap space with restricted free agent Mathew Barzal still unsigned.

“The injury is causing me to stop playing, so I don’t know if it’s retiring or LTIR,” Boychuk said. “I just know that it’s going to cause me to not play because it’s basically not safe for me if I can’t see things coming. For the future, I have no idea what to do because this has just been two months of going to doctors and I’m trying to think about what I can do after, but I’m not too sure yet.

“I want to be on the Island obviously. We built a house there, so there was no plans on leaving, but I just don’t know.”

Johnny Boychuk has spent the last six seasons with the Islanders, appearing in 404 games and recording 131 points (35 goals, 96 assists). He was acquired by the Islanders on Oct. 4, 2014, from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a pair of second-round picks.

Boychuk signed a seven-year contract extension later that season.

Prior to his trade to New York, Johnny Boychuk spent six years with Boston where he appeared in 317 games and won a Stanley Cup in 2011. In addition, Boychuk spent one season with the Colorado Avalanche.

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