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New York Islanders

Tito’s on Ice: Islanders advance behind Beauvillier’s Heroics



New York Islanders Anthony Beauvillier scores

The New York Islanders punched their ticket to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Anthony Beauvillier scored a pair goals and Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves as the Islanders took Game 5, 4-0, and the series four games to one. It was the second consecutive round that Beauvillier pulled the Isles over the finish line to close out a series.

The victory capped another strong effort from the Islanders, who have surprised many over the course of the playoffs with their strong, structured play. The 21 shots on net were the fewest that the Islanders allowed this series and it was the second two-goal effort that Beauvillier had in the playoffs.

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Beauvillier joined Mike Bossy and Bobby Nystrom as the only other Islanders to score multiple games in two series-clinching victories.

“When we’re playing the right way you can feel it on the bench. It’s contagious,” Josh Bailey said about the Islanders play. “As for Beau, I think it’s a lot of fun to play with him. He’s really stepped up his game. Been a big leaguer for us. Scored some big goals.

“I think that second goal was just paying the price and getting to the net. He’s doing a lot of things well.”

The Islanders returned to form a bit after getting away from their game in the fourth game of the series.  The Islanders got back to their offense-smothering D and they capitalized on the power play on Thursday night.

New York also limited the Capitals chances on the man-advantage to just two, as well as the number of shots on net.

The New York Islanders advance to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the last five years. Thursday’s series-clinching win is the second consecutive year they’ve knocked out a division rival from the postseason.

They will face either the Philadelphia Flyers or the Boston Bruins in the Second Round. The Islanders take on the Flyers if Philly eliminates the Montreal Canadiens, who they lead 3-2 in the series. The Islanders face Boston if Montreal rallies to take the series.

“It’s a great win for us. We’re obviously happy to move on, but you turn the page,” Bailey said. “Everyone realizes there’s still a long way to go. We’re going to have another tough opponent no matter who it is.”

And it was fitting that it was Islanders coach Barry Trotz’s former club. The Islanders bench boss had tried to downplay the narrative but admitted after the game that it had certainly led to some mixed emotions.

“I’ve got great emotions in a couple of areas,” Trotz said. “I had so much invested with that group of core players. I can’t tell you how much they mean to. I’m trying to have those same relationships with my group and hopefully, we can share something special.”

Beauvillier’s first goal of the night put the Islanders on the board first just 17 seconds into a power play. The Islanders were able to move the puck well and Brock Nelson picked up a rebound and fed it right to Beauvillier.

The second line forward buried the one-timer for his fifth goal of the playoffs. Up until that point, the New York Islanders had been 1-for-19 on the power play during their series with the Capitals.

Beauvillier made it 2-0 in the middle of the second period off a quick rush that began in the Islanders zone. Josh Bailey took the puck through the neutral zone and then sent it to Beauvillier for the backhand goal in front of the net.

“Just trying to go out there and play your best,” Beauvillier said. “Play your best and help your team win. That’s kind of my main focus these last couple of weeks and it’s been working. It’s going to be the same focus moving on.”

Nick Leddy iced the game with an empty-net goal at 17:47 of the third period and Bailey added a second empty-net goal at the 18:31 mark.

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice



Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.

Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game



The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+



Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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