UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 4 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders evened the best-of-seven series at two games each.
How it Happened: The Islanders broke a scoreless tie in the second period and unloaded for three goals in the middle frame. It was the Islanders’ second line that found the back of the net first off an impressive pass from Brock Nelson to Josh Bailey. Nelson spun around near the slot and found Bailey with the backhand pass, which allowed Bailey to take it and fire it past the glove of Andrei Vasilevskiy at 5:30 of the second period.
Mathew Barzal doubled the Islanders’ lead at 13:46 when he put the puck in a virtually empty net for a rebound goal. Cal Clutterbuck had his shot from the point stopped but the rebound went right to Barzal for his sixth goal of the playoffs. Matt Martin made it a 3-0 game when he backhanded the puck by Vasilevskiy. The goal came just moments after he took a shot off the crest and then the Islanders worked to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Tampa Bay cut the Islanders lead to just one in the third period with two quick goals at the beginning of the period. Brayden Point fired a quick laser by Semyon Varlamov nearly four minutes into the third. Tyler Johnson beat Varlamov moments later with a wrister.
It was another strong effort in net from Semyon Varlamov who made 28 saves in Game 4 for the Islanders.
Save of the Night: It will surely go down as the save of the century for the New York Islanders should their run continue. Ryan Pulock stopped Ryan McDonagh’s last-second buzzer-beater that looked like it was sure to send the game to overtime. McDonagh had spun around and caught Varlamov out of position. Pulock dove to block the shot and push it out of the crease and to the side of the net to secure the win.
Ryan Pulock with the game saving block in the dying seconds of Game 4 pic.twitter.com/kYGqfMf6xY
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 20, 2021
“I think everybody’s breath just got taken away,” Barzal said about the play. “I thought it was going in and it was just a miraculous play by Puli. I’m not going to be forgetting that one.”
Second Period Surge: The New York Islanders had been a third-period team during the regular season, but in the playoffs, it’s been the second period that they’ve dominated. With their three goals in the middle frame in Game 4, they have now outscored their opponents 23-10 in those 20 minutes and it has served as the catalyst for a number of wins this postseason run. seven different players accounted for nine points in the second period with Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech each registering two points.
“The second period can be dangerous for any team in terms of getting guys stuck out there,” Martin said when asked about whats made the Islanders so successful in the second. “We’re a team that likes to get the puck in and forecheck and roll lines over… The physicality and hemming teams in and using it to our advantage as much as possible.”
Islanders Second Line: Prior to Saturday, the line of Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey had entered Game 4 with just one goal and one assist. They finished the night with a combined three assists and helped kick off a barrage of scoring in the second period.
New Line Combos: Barry Trotz didn’t make any change to the personnel in the Islanders lineup, but he did change up the combinations for the first and third lines. Trotz swapped Leo Komarov and Kyle Palmieri in Game 4, putting the Islanders’ key trade acquisition onto the top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle. Komarov was moved down to play the wing with Travis Zajac and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The move seemed to work with the Islander top-line generating their chances and Barzal scoring in the second period.
“It’s something I’ve been contemplating each game,” Trotz said about the new lines. “They’re going to be low-scoring games. We can’t get into a track meet with this team. They finish so well. I just felt I had last change and there was more cadence in this game and I felt that would be an easier switch for me tonight. We’ll see what we do next game.”
Up Next: The series shifts back to Florida for Game 5 on Monday at 8 p.m. at Amalie Arena.
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