Islanders 6, Bruins 2
N.Y. Islanders win series 4-2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Brock Nelson scored twice in another big second period by New York, Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots and the Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals for the second straight year.
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock also scored to help the Islanders set up a rematch with the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston, and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.
With the Bruins on the power play, Marchand got the puck in front of the net and put a backhander past Varlamov from the right side at 5:38 of the third to cut Boston’s deficit to 4-2. It was Marchand’s fifth of the series and eighth of the postseason.
The Islanders’ stifling defense limited the Bruins to just five shots on goal in the third. With the minutes winding down on Boston’s season, New York hemmed the Bruins in their end of the ice, preventing them from pulling Rask for an extra skater until 1:25 left.
Clutterbuck scored an empty-netter with 59 seconds left to seal it, and Pulock added another 11 seconds later.
The score was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, but the Islanders took control with another big second period. After outscoring the Bruins 8-3 in the middle periods of the first five games, New York had three more in the second — for the third time in the series.
The Islanders went on their first power play of the game 2:18 into the second period when Karson Kuhlman was caught for tripping Mathew Barzal. The Islanders managed one shot on goal during the advantage. Shortly after the power play expired, Varlamov had kick save on Patrice Bergeron from the right side at 4:36.
Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk took off on breakaway and beat Rask into the top right corner at 5:20 to put New York up 2-1.
Varlamov made successive saves on tries by Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle with 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period to preserve the Islanders’ lead and draw chants of “Var-ly! Var-ly!” from the home crowd.
Josh Bailey stole an outlet pass from Rask and fed Nelson streaking to net, and Nelson beat the goalie from the right side with 7:23 left in the second for his second of the night at sixth of the playoffs.
With the Bruins trailing 3-1 in the elimination game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy broke up his Perfection Line of David Pastrnak-Marchand-Bergeron.
However, the Islanders stretched the lead to 4-1 as Adam Pelech sent a shot from the left point that was stopped by Rask. However, Palmieri swooped in, took the rebound and put it in from the right side for his seventh of the postseason.
With the Nassau Coliseum crowd roaring from before the puck drop, the game got off to a fast-paced start with plenty of hard hits on both sides.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard first. After a faceoff in the offensive zone, Noah Dobson fired a shot from the right point that was stopped by Rask. However, the rebound kicked out in front and Zajac grabbed it and put it in at 8:52 for his first goal this postseason.
Boston went on the power play with 5:47 left in the first when Anthony Beauvillier was whistled for tripping Charlie McAvoy. Casey Cizikas was called for a tripping penalty as well with 4 minutes remaining, putting the Bruins on a 5-on-3 for 14 seconds.
It drew chants of “New York Saints! New York Saints!” from the crowd, a reference to what Cassidy called the Islanders when complaining about the imbalance in penalties after Game 4.
The Islanders killed off the first penalty, but Marchand tied the score with 2:24 remaining as he got a cross-ice pass from Pastrnak in the right circle and quickly bet Varlamov high on the glove side.
Vasilevskiy yields little as Lightning advance in playoffs
RALEIGH, N.C. — Andrei Vasilevskiy closed another postseason series by turning away every shot. And he’s getting even stingier in net as reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay advances in the playoffs.
The 26-year-old goaltender posted a third straight shutout in a series-clinching victory in Tuesday’s 2-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, capping a five-game performance that had him frustrating the Central Division champions nearly the entire way.
Outside of one wild second period in Game 4, Vasilevskiy rarely made mistakes or gave up anything easy.
“It takes everybody to win a playoff game,” Vasilevskiy said. “It can’t just be one, two guys. Other guys, they have to give the best effort every night. Even the last game, I gave up four, we scored six. This game, we just scored two and we gave up nothing. So it’s great teamwork.”
Maybe so, but it sure starts with Vasilevskiy’s steady play in the crease.
He stopped 68 of 70 shots through the first two games of the series, helping Tampa Bay win both on the road just as the Lightning did to start the first-round series against Florida. By the time he had a 29-save shutout Tuesday, Vasilevskiy had surrendered just two goals in 99 shots through three road games — all wins — during the series.
That left the Hurricanes struggling to create a break or a lucky bounce past Vasilevskiy from the start of the series all the way through to Tuesday’s finale.
“He made some big saves, timely saves,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “Good goaltenders do that. And he did a good job of not letting us get some momentum and get the crowd into it.”
His biggest save came with when he knocked down a 2-on-1 short-handed chance by Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck.
“Sometimes mistakes are going to happen, that was one of them,” Vasilevskiy said. “I just tried to play regular 2-on-1, tried to get across as fast as possible. The guy made a good shot. And I don’t know, I just tried to react to it. It was kind of an awkward knuckleball. I think I touched it with my glove or pad. I don’t even remember.”