The New York Islanders eliminated the Boston Bruins from the playoffs following a 6-2 win Wednesday night.
The Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year and will face the same opponent as they did in 2020. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Islanders will battle it out for a chance at the Stanley Cup. Here’s a recap of Wednesday’s action:
The first period of the game turned out to be the lowest-scoring period with two total goals scored. That speaks volumes to how high scoring this game was. The goals were scored by Travis Zajac of the Isles and Brad Marchand of the Bruins.
After a 1-1 first period, the game looked like anyone could take it home. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Islanders took their second lead in the second period and didn’t let up. Thanks to two goals from Brock Nelson and one from Kyle Palmieri, the Isles led 4-1 going into the third period. The Isles led by three goals despite leading by just two shots going into the third period and having the same number of shots as the Bruins in period two.
The Bruins had a long way to go in the third period, but they got absolutely shut down in that period. With only five shots on goal in the third, the Bruins had their chances of winning crushed. The Islanders defense came in clutch in the one period they needed to. It paid off, gifting them with a trip to the Stanley Cup semis. The Islanders offense didn’t let up either, though. They scored two goals in the final period to Boston’s one to take a 6-2 victory in Game 6.
One of the few bright spots for the Bruins was Brad Marchand. He scored the only two goals for the Bruins in this game. Both of Marchand’s goals came on the power play and came from an assist by David Krejci. He may have been able to score a few more than eight goals this postseason if Semyon Varlamov wouldn’t have been so dominant this series.
Varlamov finished with the third star of the game after posting a .920 save percentage, and 23 saves on 25 shots. In the games before, he finished with a .909 SV% (on 44 shots faced), .966 SV%, .951 SV% and .929 SV%. It’s hard to say that this series wasn’t dependent on Varlamov’s steady play in goal.
Much can’t be said for the other man in the crease this series, Tuukka Rask. Though Rask did put up back-to-back solid games where he finished with a .966 save percentage in Game 3 and a .938 save percentage in Game 4, Rask hadn’t been great this series. He finished with an abysmal .750 SV% last game in relief of rookie Jeremy Swayman and a .852 SV% in the series-clinching game. Though Rask had been good in the first round series against the Capitals, the second round looked to be a big wake-up call to the 34-year-old goaltender.
The Islanders and Stanley Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz will face the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Meanwhile, Bruce Cassidy, also a former Washington Capitals head coach, suffers his second consecutive season ending in the second round.
The Bruins will look to the draft and free agency to improve their squad for the 2021-22 season. Many questions loom for the Bruins, on the future of Tuukka Rask and others.