The New York Islanders know they’ll need to play much better against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) than they did in Game 5 to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
New York held on for a 5-4 win at Boston on Monday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series despite being outshot 44-19, including 18-3 in the third period when it had a three-goal lead reduced to one with 5:17 remaining before clamping down.
“We have to be way better,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday. “We found a way to win, which is good on the group. We were resilient. We had big moments we had to capitalize and get momentum back. We were able to do that. We got timely saves and when we were sort of getting on our heels in the third when they were having their push, we settled it down the last four or five minutes, which that’s what we needed to do. But we can be way better in our game.”
The Islanders expect the Bruins also to be better and determined to push the series to a deciding Game 7 at Boston on Friday. New York was in the same position in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins after winning Game 5 on the road and channeled the emotions of a deafening crowd at Nassau Coliseum to close out the series with a 5-3 win in Game 6.
“The last one is always the hardest one to get, but we’re excited to go back to the Coliseum,” Islanders forward Jordan Eberle said. “You guys have seen it, how loud it’s been. It helps us, it gives us some juice. So, we’ll watch the video, get prepared, and be ready for another tough battle.”
The Islanders played perhaps their best game of the series in a 4-1 victory at home in Game 4 on Saturday, limiting the Bruins to a series-low 29 shots on goal, including 19 at even-strength. But Boston pushed back hard from the start of Game 5, taking a 1-0 lead with David Pastrnak‘s goal 1:25 in and outshooting New York 11-7.
The Islanders weathered the early storm with goalie Semyon Varlamov making 10 of his 40 saves in the first period and Mathew Barzal tying the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal with 1:11 remaining. That was the first of three power-play goals the Islanders scored.
New York was fortunate to escape another Boston onslaught in the third period despite not getting a shot on goal after Brock Nelson‘s goal that increased its lead to 5-2 at 1:59.
“That’s a credit to a lot of stuff the Bruins were doing, but also there’s stuff that we did the game before that they didn’t give us credit,” Trotz said. “We got to our checking game. They got to their checking game last night, I felt, for good portions of that. But we were able to survive and get the timely save and we were able to capitalize on some of their miscues. That’s what playoff hockey is.”
The Islanders are seeking to advance past the second round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the second straight season after not doing it since reaching the 1993 Wales Conference Final. Having won at least one round each of the past three seasons, New York has gained experience in these situations and expects Boston’s best game Wednesday.
“Any team that has experience knows how hard it is to get that fourth game and you’ve got to bring that desperation, too,” Trotz said. “We’ll be desperate tomorrow. They will be desperate. To get the fourth one is always the toughest, so I think the guys understand that they’ve got to leave their best game out there. If we leave our best game out there, hopefully we get the result tomorrow, and if we do, then we advance. If we don’t, we go to Game 7 and we’ll have to have our best game there in Boston.
“So, I think guys understand that. I don’t think there’s any magic to it. It’s just understanding the reality of it and how hard it is to finish out a team.”