It was a fight until the finish but the New York Islanders had the final say.
After dropping Game 3 in overtime, the Islanders rallied for four unanswered goals to take Game 4, 4-1, and even up the best-of-7 series with the Boston Bruins.
It was a physical game with fights early, but Mathew Barzal’s go-ahead goal with under 10 minutes to go broke a 1-1 tie and the Isles then added two empty-netters.
There was chaos and energy in this one so let’s break it down a little more.
Barzal steals the show
He had a tying goal in Game 3, and Mathew Barzal continued his strong play in this series but putting his fingerprints all over this one.
MAT BARZAL! 🚨
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 6, 2021
With the Islanders down a goal in the second, he worked his magic with the puck by working the puck along the right wing boards before skating behind the net. He made a perfect feed to Kyle Palmieri, who did the rest.
But it was his stick in the third period that won him the game and made him look like he could bat cleanup with the Mets. He cycled the puck in the offensive zone and fed Scott Mayfield at the point. His shot was blocked by Barzal batted the puck out of the air *just* before it hit the ice. Tuukka Rask, who had an excellent game in net, had little chance.
Barzal is heating up and now has seven points in the postseason.
Important penalty kill
The Islanders very much could have lost this game in the second period. Instead, they turned it up a notch after their toughest challenge.
After David Krejci scored the ice-breaker, Barry Trotz and his staffed challenged the goal for goalie interference on Brad Marchand. The call was upheld and the Bruins had the goal and another power play in tow.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 6, 2021
The Islanders killed off this penalty and then less than three minutes after the opening goal, Palmieri tied things up. This sequence was the turning point of the game, without a doubt.
Best game of the playoffs?
The Islanders aren’t a team that has dominated possession in many games, especially in these playoffs. But after the first period, the Islanders truly kicked it into gear.
They held over 64 percent of the chances in the middle period and 52.17 in the third at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick. Over the final 40 minutes, they also had seven high danger chances for at 5-on-5.
This was one of those games where the numbers absolutely matched the eye test. The Islanders led handedly in expected goals for and came away with a victory.
The Beauvillier-Nelson-Bailey line produced a whopping 68.18 Corsi for percentage while the Barzal line was just a tick south of 60 percent. Having the top two lines have that production is enormous.
And while Krejci did score, the Islanders did a fantastic job shutting down his line for the most part, most notably Taylor Hall.
Game 5 in Boston is going to be a different animal than this one, but Game 4 switched the momentum toward the Islanders against the Penguins. Can it be the same in this series? We’ll find out Monday night.