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New York Islanders

Islanders Rally Falls Short in Game 5 Loss to Flyers



New York Islanders lament a goal scored by the Philadelphia Flyers

The New York Islanders will have to wait another day for a shot to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Despite the Islanders rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period, Scott Laughton got a deflection goal at 12:20 of the overtime period to secure a 4-3 win for the Flyers and push the Second Round series to a sixth game. The loss continues a trend that has seen the Islanders fail to close out an opponent on their first opportunity in every series they’ve played this postseason.

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Ivan Provorov slung a shot towards the net from the blueline and Laughton was able to get the deflection for the game-winning goal.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes. I think as wingers we have to do a better job and try and get out there as quick as we can,” Josh Bailey said about stopping the deflection goals. “Then try and tie guys up in front. I think fro the most part our D and forwards do a good job. Those pucks are going to find their way in sometimes. Hopefully next game they find their way in for us.”

The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers will Play Game 6 on Thursday. However, a time has not been set yet for the game.

It capped a night that saw the Islanders play sloppily for a better part of Game 5, but claw back with two goals in the final five minutes of the third. It was the third time this season that the Islanders eliminated a third period deficit against the Flyers and the second time during the postseason.

“That’s just the character of our team,” Jordan Eberle said. “There’s quit in us. We want to continue, even you’re down 3-1 with eight or nine minutes left. There’s still an opportunity to win the game. Obviously, didn’t get the result. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we’ll be ready to go next time.”

Mat Barzal Leaves Game 5 Early

Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after Thomas Greiss started in Game 4. Varlamov gave the Islanders a 28 save effort on Tuesday.

The Islanders mounted a third-period comeback late in the final 20 minutes. It started with a goal from Brock Nelson off a one-timer with 4: 14 left in the period. The goal was Nelson’s sixth of the playoffs and pulled the Islanders within one.

The equalizer came with 2:41 left in regulation. With the Islanders buzzing Cal Clutterbuck took the puck off the wall and skated towards the net. Clutterbuck was able to get a backhand centering pass over to Brassard, who backhanded the puck past Hart for the goal.

“Our first period they had lot more desperation coming out of the gates than we did,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought we stabilized the game. In the second I thought we were coming pretty good. We got the power-play goal and then we made a couple of I would say questionable decisions. They capitalized on their chances. In the third period, I thought we were coming.”

The Islanders took the lead 1:20 into the second period with the Islanders on the power play. Bailey put a shot on goal from the side of the net and it ricocheted off a someone in the blue paint and went in. The goal was originally credited to Josh Bailey but was later changed to Mat Barzal’s goal

The Flyers challenged the goal for goaltender interference, arguing that Mat Barzal was hindering Carter Hart’s ability to make the save. After review, it was ruled a good goal and that Barzal had been pushed into the crease by a Flyers player.

It was Claude Giroux’s first of the playoffs that evened the game at one at the 15:45 of the second period. Philippe Myers threw a puck towards the net from the blueline and Giroux deflected it in the slot by Semyon Varlamov.

Less than three minutes later the Flyers captured the lead off an offensive zone turnover by the Islanders. Philadelphia took the puck the other way and on an odd-man rush, James van Riemsdyk scored to make it 2-1 at 18:18.

It was another costly turnover in the third that put the Islanders down by two early in the period. Derick Brassard went to pass the puck Jean-Gabriel Pageau as they exited the Islanders zone, but the pass was picked off and the Flyers took advantage.

Matt Niskanen fired a slapshot from the far side of the ice and beat Varlamov to make it 3-1.

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New York Islanders

GREENE TEAM: Veteran Defenseman Andy Greene Prepares to Face Former ‘Mates



Andy Greene

COVID-19 altered or canceled many things over the course of the roughly 10 months that the United States and the rest of the world have dealt with the virus. Among those milestones or events that had to be put off was the chance for Andy Greene to play against his former team, the New Jersey Devils.

Greene was acquired by the New York Islanders in mid-February and would have faced his former team in mid-March had it not been for the league postponing the season on March 12. The veteran defenseman will finally get that chance on Thursday when the Isles play New Jersey in the first of two matchups over the next four days.

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The Islanders will host New Jersey at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night and then travel to the Prudential Center on Sunday.

“Obviously first time doing this and you know it’s going to be strange,” Greene said after the Islanders practiced on Long Island Wednesday. “it will be weird, but once we get out there I’m sure strange seeing a couple of those guys that I still have a really good relationship with. I don’t know (how it will be).

“I know it’s kind of weird. Once the puck drops and we get through the first shift there it will be hockey as usual, but for sure it will be my first time going through it.”

The 15-year NHL defenseman had been a lifelong Devil before he was traded last season to boost the Islanders’ depth at the blue line. Adam Pelech had been lost for the season following a freak injury in January and while Noah Dobson had been performing admirably in his place, the Isles needed some help.

Andy Greene only played three regular-season games in New York before COVID-19 shut down the season. The vet was able to establish his role during the postseason, where he became a vital piece in the Islanders’ run to the conference finals.

While Greene and his family have adjusted going from Devils to Islanders since the February trade, there are still little adjustments that they’re getting used to.

For instance, on Monday with the Islanders playing a matinee Greene’s two young sons were able to watch the home opener against the Boston Bruins. The Greenes watched the game from home, like the rest of the fans, and Greene’s 3-year-old son got all excited when the MSG+ broadcast showed Sparky, the Islanders mascot.

However, it did raise one pressing question for the youngest member of the Greene family.

“He was like, ‘where is NJ Devil,'” Greene said. “We were like, ‘well bud he’s not there, We’re not there anymore he’s not going to be there, but maybe on Sunday you’ll be able to see him on TV there.'”

And while Greene’s family adjusts to the change in mascots, Greene will have to find a way to play through facing guys that he came up with in the  NHL. Travis Zajac and Greene played for New Jersey together for nearly their entire careers.

Andy Greene and Zajac both made their NHL debuts during the 2006-07 and the two developed a close friendship.

“That will be obviously the more weird ones to play against,” Greene said. “Obviously knowing him, just the relationship we have together and everything we’ve been through together as teammates and friends. It will be fun. It will be good. Obviously, it will be a great challenge.”

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New York Islanders

Oliver Wahlstrom could give New York Islanders scoring jolt



Oliver Wahlstrom

Since the New York Islanders three-goal barrage in the first period against the New York Rangers on opening night, the team has amassed just two goals over the ensuing eight periods.

Yes, it’s a small sample size and still early in the season, but in an abbreviated campaign, each game’s importance is magnified.

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Through three games, the Islanders rank 28th in the league in Corsi For percentage (42.45, per Natural Stat Trick), and just haven’t generated a ton of sustained offensive zone time outside of a brilliant start a Madison Square Garden. Hockey Reference has the Islanders at 0.7 expected goals for per game, which is tied for last with the New Jersey Devils.

It’s not time to sound the alarm bells, but it’s also not ideal to hit the snooze button and let the problem linger.

Up and down the lineup the Islanders can get more contributions from everyone. But a little tweak on the third line might go a long way. Adding 20-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom might just give the team a little spark.

With the departure of Derrick Brassard, the Islanders have so far relied on a third line of Kieffer Bellows, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ross Johnston. That line has seen the fewest ice time of any of the offensive units, although Pageau has played in a bit of a hybrid role and has skated with other teammates and has received special teams time.

Semyon Varlamov Dominant in Shutout Win Over Boston Bruins

Right now that third line is acting more like a fourth, and not giving the Islanders much — if any — scoring depth. Bellows and Johnston have each have recorded just one shot on goal through three games. Even in limited playing time, that’s just not enough to make any tangible difference.

Sure, one could argue that this group is out there to create a forecheck and maybe give the Islanders an extra physical presence. But the fourth line already fulfills that role, and with Matt Martin already in the lineup, Barry Trotz and the Islanders are double-dipping a bit by keeping Johnston out there.

Oliver Wahlstrom has only nine games of NHL experience under his belt from last year, but did produce 22 points over 45 AHL games with Bridgeport last year. As a 19-year-old with the big club last season, he did produce a 46 percent CF percentage in those nine games, which isn’t at all terrible for a first cup of coffee as a teenager at hockey’s highest level.

On loan in Sweden this winter, Wahlstrom produced four goals and four assists over 10 games and flashed the offensive zone ability he was lauded for when the Islanders used a first-round pick on him in 2018. Wahlstrom has a high ceiling and plenty of skill with the puck, which could give the team an added element it is right now lacking.

When Michael Dal Colle officially returns from injured reserve, he’ll likely get a shot to skate on Pageau’s wing on the third line. Trotz said on Tuesday that Dal Colle was “real close” to coming off IR.

With 17 points in 85 games, Dal Colle probably won’t move the scoring needle a ton for the Islanders.

It might not be a huge difference-maker right now, but giving Oliver Wahlstrom a chance to come off the taxi squad and into the lineup could give the Islanders a little bit of an offensive spark and take the pressure off some of the top-six forwards.

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New York Islanders

Semyon Varlamov Dominant in Shutout Win Over Boston Bruins



Semyon Varlamov

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Semyon Varlamov didn’t miss a beat on Monday.

Despite missing his scheduled start on Saturday due to a freak injury during warmups, the veteran goaltender was on the ice and in command of his net in the New York Islanders 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins. Varlamov made 27 saves as he became the first goalie in franchise history to record shutouts in their first two games of the season.

“I can tell that’s the best result I’ve ever had after two games,” Varlamov said. I’ve never had back to back shutouts at the beginning of the season. I mean I’ve had some seasons where I’ve felt great, but still, the outcome is different. I’m glad it happened this way and I’m pretty happy about the result.”

Semyon Varlamov was dominant in his second outing of the year on Monday. The Islanders’ netminder withstood what felt like a barrage of shots Boston threw at him over the course of the 60-minute contest.

Varlamov is only the 14th goaltender in NHL history to start the season with shutouts in his first two starts.

It was up in the air if Varlamov would even be able to start on Monday. He was injured by a shot during warmups on Saturday night and was forced to miss the game.

“I got hit in the face during warmups,” Varlamov said. “It happens you know. I felt a little dizzy. It happens. I felt fine the next morning. I skated yesterday, felt pretty good after practice. Barry decided to put me in the net. I felt pretty good today.”

The Russian goalie held Boston at bay early in the game. Boston tilted the ice in their favor through the first 20 minutes of the game, pressuring the Islanders and outshooting them 11-3.

The Islanders managed to right the ship as the game went on, it was the early effort from Varlamov that helped the Islanders turn the tide.

“I thought early he was a big reason we got a win tonight,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “He made some really good saves against a very good hockey team. He just calmed our game, gave us a chance. In the second period, we got our feet moving and started to play more to our identity.”

The shutout win certainly had plenty of people excited, Varlamov tried to keep the situation within perspective after the game

“I’ll take back-to-back shutouts, I’m not going to lie,” Varlamov said. “I’m pretty happy today. But this is just the beginning of the year, a lot of games coming. We played well today and I’m glad we scored the important goal in the end.”

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