Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting the puck on the net, and that’s what Oliver Wahlstrom did on Saturday afternoon and most of the New York Islanders’ First Round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders rookie scored his first career playoff goal in as fortuitous a way as any. Wahlstrom took a pass from Mathew Barzal and fired it on net, where Tristan Jarry made the initial stop. In an effort to clear the puck Teddy Blueger swiped at it accidentally sending it into his own net.
It wasn’t a pretty goal by any means, but it was a shining example of why putting the puck on the net is usually the best decision. It’s a philosophy that has gone a long way for the Islanders rookie during the regular season, and now the postseason.
Wahlstrom’s three shots on net were tied for second-most among Islanders skaters in Game 4 on Saturday. Prior to his third-period goal on Saturday, one of Wahlstrom’s previous shot attempts lead directly to Ryan Pulock’s goal in the second
Wahlstrom’s initial shot was stopped, but the fortuitous rebound led to Pulock giving the Islanders a two-goal lead.
“He’s been great. He’s really enjoying the moment,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said on Sunday afternoon. “Personally I remember my first playoffs, so it’s something that he’s going to remember. And the way he’s playing he’s going to remember for sure. I think he’s leaving it all out there.
“He’s playing strong on the puck, making the right decision with the puck considering the time in the game, so I really see the maturity in his game and that’s only good for his future.”
Pageau had been paired with Oliver Wahlstrom for most of the 20-year-old’s time during the regular season and the two had created good chemistry with one another. The veteran NHLer said that part of the ease has been the strong communication that Wahlstrom has had with Pageau and Kyle Palmieri on the third line.
Isles head coach Barry Trotz said that the play of Oliver Wahlstrom hasn’t been much of a surprise to him. The team and its coaching staff had an idea of how the series could go for the rookie forward.
“I’ve seen young players react extremely well and I’ve seen young players go the other way,” Trotz said. “He’s done pretty well, but he’s built for the playoffs. He’s got a playoff-style body. He’s a big thick guy and he’s strong as an ox. As long as he’s not getting overwhelmed with things all those other attributes just come and I think he’s had a pretty solid playoffs.”
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