The Islanders have been good in the playoffs in many facets. Their defensive structure, goaltending, dominant play at 5-on-5 and offensive production, are just some that come to mind.
Their resiliency though? That’s on another level.
Even in falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime yesterday afternoon in game two of their best-of-seven series, the Isles once again nearly pulled off another epic comeback.
So how it goes been for this group this postseason. They’re a club who feels like they’re never out of a game and that no deficit is too much.
We were resilient,” said Anders Lee to reporters. “It was obviously not the first period we set out to have, but I think we also understood at the same time that there was plenty of game left and a lot of things can happen, so if we just stick with it, stay positive, we’ll find a way and that’s exactly what we did.
Yesterday afternoon didn’t get off to the greatest start for them either.
Semyon Varlamov — who’s been a rockstar in the postseason — gave up three goals on ten shots which prompted head coach Barry Trotz to pull him. In came Thomas Greiss.
Greiss, who had yet to play in the postseason, last saw action during the July 29th exhibition game against the Rangers, where he played the final 30 minutes of the game as a part of a split with Varlamov.
Well Greiss was solid and held down the fort, which allowed the Islanders a chance to get themselves back into the game.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Isles began to show their that trademark heart and grit towards the midpoint of the second period. What really started it was Ross Johnston took a hit up high from Flyers d-man Matt Niskanen. The Islanders went on the offensive in the aftermath. They cut the lead to two on Anders Lee’s power play goal off an excellent set up from Mathew Barzal.
From there, the Islanders began to assert themselves at even strength.
About even in that period. Greiss played well, Isles came back a little. Not over yet.#Isles 2nf Period 5v5 Metrics via NST
48.69% High Danger
51.34% Expected Goals
More traffic in front of Hart that period, for sure. Which is good… make 'em work. pic.twitter.com/UtN4wenNFi
— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) August 26, 2020
Down 3-1 heading into the third, and not converting on the overlapping power play from the previous frame, the game could have really been over.
No one told the Isles that.
Anthony Beauvillier made it a one-goal game just past the nine-minute mark, and it felt like once were witnessing the same scenario that unfolded the previous round when the Isles came back in both games one and two against the Washington Capitals.
then it happened….the Isles tied the game.
With 2:17 remaining, J.G. Pageau roofed one over Carter Hart’s shoulder after he found himself wide open off a turnover off a failed clearing attempt. D-man Adam Pelech got in front of the Philly’s Sean Couturier and the puck went directly to Pageau’s stick.
JG PAGEAU!!! pic.twitter.com/c451SdeLYy
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 26, 2020
“We just stuck with… refocused and get back to the simple things,” Pageau said after the game.
The Islanders had a chance to win it after they were handed a power play off a failed offside challenge on Pageau’s tally, but couldn’t beat Hart. Phillippe Myers would win the game for Philadelphia early in overtime. Now the series is tied.
Still, from an Islanders perspective, the result doesn’t take away the fact they were still able to get the game to overtime. They could have packed it in after the rough first period. But they didn’t. They grinded it out and came within one shot of a third straight 2-0 series lead. And they showed a ton of heart and poise doing it.
“A loss is a loss and we have to put it behind us and we have to focus on tomorrow’s game,” Trotz said when asked about taking any moral victories in defeat.
While what Trotz has said is true, the Islanders can definitely take the effort they had and use it as a stepping stone for game three tonight.
If not that they can look at how resilient they’ve been since the playoff started.