New York Islanders
Pu-Locked! Game-Saving Play by Islanders Defenseman Another Note in Strong Playoff Year
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — When the 2020-21 New York Islanders season is added to the history books, Ryan Pulock and his game-saving stop in the closing seconds of Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning is sure to be prominently featured. It was by far the play of the game and the save of the year as the Isles defenseman was able to get down and block the shot in the goal crease to secure a 3-2 win for New York and even the best-of-seven series.
Josh Bailey called it special, Mathew Barzal described it as miraculous. In the end, it was series saving.
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“It’s playoffs Nothing surprises anybody really,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s the great thing about our game. We can bring you out of your seats right until the last minute. What a save by Puli. That will be remembered, but I thought we played a really good game.”
New York had played close to a New York Islanders style of game as they do on Saturday night. They bent, but didn’t break in the first period, fired on all cylinders in the second, and weathered the storm in the third as Tampa Bay came within inches of tying the game.
RYAN PULOCK MAKES THE SAVE AT THE BUZZER. #Isles | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/wJgSFreCZ4
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 20, 2021
And the Islanders didn’t help their cause in the final minute of the game even with a power-play called in the last 1:12 of the third. A frustrated Victor Hedman was booked for a tripping penalty and sent to the box. Tampa Bay pulled their goaltender after clearing the puck and then was able to get into the Islanders zone to set up.
“I was actually watching on the jumbotron. I saw him kind of do the spin-o-rama and saw the net was wide open and your heart sinks there for a second,” Matt Martin said. “Hell of a play by Puls to kind of save the day there. That’s the kind of desperation that all our D play with. I think all our players play with in general. Obviously a huge play. We’re not sitting here right now if he doesn’t do that.
“Obviously a game-saving situation.”
Slowly, Ryan Pulock has been garnering more recognition for his work on the Islanders’ blue line during the playoffs. As the spotlight has shined on the Islanders, so too has it on Pulock and his defensive capabilities.
Ryan Pulock, along with Adam Pelech, has been matched up against some of the league’s best players during the postseason. The young defenseman’s ability to read plays and make the right decisions in his own has given the Islanders’ defensive core a major boost, and his booming shot is an added weapon for the Islanders’ offense.
His four goals in the playoffs are leading all team defensemen.
“I think he’s starting to (get more recognition),” Trotz said. “I think in this market and what we’ve been able to do, the biggest stage is always the playoffs. If you play well in the playoffs you’re going to get noticed and you’re going to get the recognition. Those are the hardest games. We’ve been in the playoffs here the last couple of years.
“We played a lot of games, so I think he’s starting to get the recognition he deserves as a good young player in this league.”
It may be a bit premature to start building a statue of Pulock’s game-saving stop outside UBS Arena just yet, but it is another notch in his belt in a playoff run where Pulock has been playing some of his best hockey.