The New York Islanders had their backs against the wall in the third period of Tuesday’s contest. Down by one in a game that the Islanders needed to win, someone or something needed to spark the team.
With 11:32 to play in the third period, with the Philadelphia Flyers up 3-2, Scott Mayfield took a hit up high as he crossed the red line from Flyers forward Zack MacEwen. There was no penalty called on the play.
Although Mayfield did not seem to be phased by the high hit, despite his helmet flying off his head, veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara took exception. After a discussion with 25-year old Zack MacEwen, the 44-year old Chara decided to drop the gloves.
Chara, who knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two, waited for MacEwen to drop the gloves first in order not to receive an instigator penalty.
After sending MacEwen to the ice with ease with a few heavy blows, Chara, the classy professional that he is, asked if MacEwen was okay. The fight was nothing personal, and Chara showed respect to MacEwen for answering the call.
The New York Islanders had a new sense of life following the fight.
They outshot the Flyers 4-1 over the next four minutes before a strong play by Mayfield set up Casey Cizikas for the tying goal with under five minutes to play in the third.
crash the net and good things happen!
Cizikas ties it up at 3! pic.twitter.com/4u1V0aiNhg
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 19, 2022
“Our bench perked up after that,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said regarding the fight. “And then our identity line came through.”
“Scotty Mayfield who took the hit made a really good play, obviously to Casey on that goal and then I thought were really good in the overtime.”
The Islanders, offensively, had one of their more productive overtimes of the season despite not scoring. The game would need a nine-round shootout to determine the victor, with the Islanders leaving town with the extra point.
But the Islanders do not get to overtime or a shootout without Cizikas’ third-period equalizer.
And that third-period equalizer, based on how the Islanders had played in that third period, would not have happened if the team remained lifeless.
Chara’s leadership proved pivotal in the outcome of Tuesday’s contest.
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