Islanders vs Penguins Live : The Islanders host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to start the Stanley Cup playoffs on the Penguins have enough of those to stay busy after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, a Game 1, That Game 1 loss of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs for the Penguins against the … Islanders keep Sidney Crosby in check in series opener vs.
It’s been a while since the Islanders have won the first two games of a playoff series. Actually, that’s a considerable understatement. It’s been 36 years, dating to the Islanders’ four-game sweep of the Oilers in 1983 to win the franchise’s fourth straight Stanley Cup.
The Islanders can snap that lengthy drought against the Penguins on Friday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum after winning Game 1 of the first-round series in overtime, 4-3, on Wednesday night.
“It’s been a good start so far,” right wing Jordan Eberle said after Thursday’s practice in East Meadow. “We’ve got a chance tomorrow to take a bit of a stranglehold on it and feel good about it. But we have to expect their best and be ready.”
The key to any playoff series is to improve game by game, and both teams have areas in which they’d like to do better during Game 2.
The Islanders, for the most part, played well within their defensive structure in the first and third periods and in overtime. But they got into a bit of a track meet with the Penguins in the second period and took three of their five penalties. Neither is advisable, given the Penguins’ offensive capabilities and their potent power play.
The Penguins rallied three times from one-goal deficits, including Evgeni Malkin’s power-play goal to tie it at 2-2 at 13:41 of the second period and Justin Schultz’s equalizer with 1:29 left in regulation and the Penguins skating six-on-five.
“I thought in the second period the game was pretty loose and they were just creating chances on the rush,” center Mathew Barzal said. “We’ve just got to limit it as much as we can. We know they’re going to get their chances. We know they’re going to get their open ice. We’ve just got to limit it as much as we can and take away space.”
The Islanders, particularly Casey Cizikas’ line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck and the defense pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, limited the Penguins’ top line of Sidney Crosby between Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust to a combined three shots.
“They’re going to be coming at you,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Their top players are going to be their top players tomorrow night. They rise to those occasions and we’ve got to rise with it. We can’t be comfortable. We just won one game. You don’t even pat yourself on the back.”
“We just didn’t do a good job of getting out of our own zone,” Crosby said. “If you’re spending half your shift there, you don’t have a lot of energy to go the other way. So we’ve got to execute coming out of our zone.”
To do that, the Penguins will need to improve how they handle the Islanders’ relentless forecheck.
“We knew they’d come at us with a heavy forecheck,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They impose their physical presence and force turnovers.”
Game 1 had its chippy moments. Malkin and defenseman Scott Mayfield went off for roughing at 10:43 of the second period and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and Brock Nelson traded roughing and slashing minors at 13:42 of the third period. It’s only natural for the physical nature of a playoff series to intensify after the first game.
Red-cheeked and swarmed with cameras, Bailey let out a sigh of relief. Less than 10 seconds had remained in regulation when the winger barreled down the slot and redirected a centering pass that clanged off the far post. “That was tough to shake,” Bailey said. “I was worried I’d have to see that one in my nightmares for a while.” Instead it was his putback goal, struck 4:39 into overtime of Game 1 in the first round against Pittsburgh, that lifted the Islanders to a 4–3 win at Nassau Coliseum. “Little bit of redemption,” Bailey said.
Buckle up, girls and boys, because here is what these playoffs hath wrought already: Four unanswered tallies by eighth-seeded Columbus against the runaway Stanley Cup favorites in Tampa Bay, two third-period goals to complete visiting St. Louis’s comeback over Winnipeg, and one puck that struck San Jose captain Joe Pavelski’s face before caroming into the Nashville net.
Then there was the instant classic along Hempstead Turnpike, where the Islanders survived 44 total shots from the Penguins and defenseman Justin Schultz’s game-tying strike with 89 seconds left—not to mention three torturous video reviews, including an anti-climatic delay confirming whether Bailey’s winner should indeed count—to take a 1–0 series lead.
That has been the Islanders’ way since Trotz stepped behind the bench last summer, quite possibly still stinking of victory champagne after capturing the ultimate prize with the Capitals. He inherited the NHL’s bottom-ranked scoring defense and promptly turned them into its stingiest, a transformation last achieved by the 1918–19 Ottawa Senators, who largely benefitted from a contingent of players returning from World War I. The Islanders, meanwhile, lost their captain and leading scorer to free agency yet still finished fourth in the conference, one point behind Washington for the division lead. “They didn’t flinch at all, which is good,” Trotz said.
It was this desire for resilience that led Trotz to invite Clarke to speak during training camp, as he had done with the Capitals prior to their magical run last year. The talk was long, eclipsing an hour and a half. But the players were hooked, Bailey included. Drafted in 2008 and debuting amid a 26-win debacle that season, the soft-spoken 29-year-old is now the Islanders’ longest-tenured member. How fitting, then, that it was Bailey who pounced onto a loose puck after Barzal’s backhander hit the post, pummeling the game-winner past goalie Matt Murray before hurling himself against the glass with both skates in the air, as though he were trying to touch the top of a mountain in a single bound.