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For the first time in their playoff series against the Boston Bruins, the New York Islanders have a series lead.
The Islanders defeated the Bruins 5-4 on Monday at TD Garden in Boston as they capitalized on their first three power-play chances to build their lead.
The Bruins, who won Games 1 and 3, couldn’t overcome a strong performance between the pipes from Semyon Varlamov, even though David Pastrnak broke through twice.
- Mathew Barzal, Isles: 1 goal, 1 assist
- Semyon Varlamov, Isles: 40 saves
- David Pastrnak, Bruins: 2 goals, 1 assist
- Brad Marchand, Bruins: 1 goal, 1 assist
Isles Power Play Comes Through
Mathew Barzal’s tying goal came with Sean Kuraly in the box for slashing, and then Kyle Palmieri opened the second period with a power-play goal 4:49 in. That time, Matt Grzelcyk was sidelined for cross-checking.
The success on the power play was remarkable against a Bruins squad that was largely productive on the kill in both the regular season and the playoffs. The Bruins survived man-down series at a rate of 86.0 percent during the regular season, trailing just the Vegas Golden Knights (86.8 percent).
In the postseason, they were slightly less successful heading into Monday, killing at a rate of 81.3 percent, but they still ranked in the top tier of playoff teams in that category.
From the time of the first intermission, it was clear just how integral that power-play success was going to be against Boston:
Michael Hurley @michaelFhurley
Hard to overstate the significance of that penalty call. The Islanders legitimately *barely* had the puck all period. PP gave them what they needed.
Bruins still could’ve killed the penalty, obviously. But NYI had absolutely nothing. Shot attempts 25-9 in 19:13 at even strength.
The Islanders got one from Josh Bailey at even strength at 14:30 of the third to go up 3-2. But the Islanders went back on the advantage shortly after with Chris Wagner in the box for high sticking, and Jordan Eberle capitalized to make it 4-2.
Though they finished with just 19 shots compared to 44 shots from the Bruins, the Islanders proved that the right shots, not more of them, were enough to get past a generally lethal Bruins penalty kill and head home with the potential to clinch.
Varlamov’s consistency was important to keep the Isles on top.
Bruins’ Strong Start Can’t Cancel Out PK Woes
Boston switched things up entering Monday’s game, swapping Karson Kuhlman into the lineup for Jake DeBrusk.
Kuhlman has made one postseason appearance, where he was credited with a secondary assist on Charlie Coyle’s goal in Game 2 of this series. As for DeBrusk, who scored in the first two games against Washington, he hasn’t landed on the scoresheet throughout this series.
The Bruins got on the board early when David Pastrnak one-timed it just 1:25 into the game. Boston continued that domination through the first period, outshooting the Islanders 11-7 through the frame.
Even as Barzal evened things up on the power play with under two minutes left to play, Boston had controlled the middle part of the period, and the scoresheet didn’t necessarily reflect that heading into the first intermission.
The Islanders went up on a power-play goal from Palmieri, but a highlight-reel goal from Brad Marchand put things back to even strength shortly after.
But the Isles continued their onslaught in the second period, going into the final period with a two-goal advantage and just 16 shots. That rate of scoring led to rookie Jeremy Swayman getting the nod in net, making his Stanley Cup playoff debut.
The magic—and promise—didn’t last long. Brock Nelson got one on net less than two minutes into the frame.
Boston put the deficit back at two on a power-play goal of its own from Pastrnak, and then David Krejci broke through to make it a one-goal game entering the final five minutes of play.
A late rally got the Bruins back in it, and had they not succumbed to an Islanders’ power play earlier in the night, they would’ve been building their own lead rather than working their way out of the hole.
Game 6 is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in New York.