For a second straight game, the Isles were a victim of their own misdoings.
They fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 last night, this time in double overtime. And now the Metropolitan Division rivals will play a do-or-dir Game 7 on Saturday.
The Islanders outshot the Flyers 54-31, but couldn’t shut the door. Instead, they left it open for a pesky Flyers team, but more so they beat themselves.
Let’s start with the fact that the Islanders posted an absurd 54 shots on goal. Tip your cap to Flyers goaltender Carter Hart. He stole a game for the Flyers.
“You have to give them credit, especially their goalie, he’s been playing good,” said Derick Brassard, whose redirection at the left post of defenseman Devon Toews’ feed three seconds after the Islanders’ second power play expired brought them within 2-1 at 16:33 of the first period. “We’ve got to go to the net and get some ugly ones. Our effort was there tonight. This is the playoffs. Those games are always close. It didn’t go our way tonight.”
The Islanders didn’t have their best start, finding themselves down 2-0 by 11:52 in the first period. They found a way to claw their way back from a 2-0 deficit, and by the end of the second period, they were up 4-3.
Mathew Barzal was a key contributor in orchestrating the comeback. It was evident that the Flyers had a target on the Isles centerman, but he came into this game with a vengeance and absolutely tortured the Flyers all night long.
Barzal recorded nine shots on goal, one of them which beat Hart to give the Islanders the lead with 30 seconds left in the second period.
The shot was also one of the most wicked we’ve seen from an Islanders’ forward in the series.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 4, 2020
Earlier, Barzal assisted on a goal by Anders Lee on the power play. The first line, despite the lack of production from a snakebit Jordan Eberle, was the Isles’ best line all game and looked incredible on the rush.
The contributions also came from throughout the lineup with goals from the power play, as well as the first, third, and fourth lines at even strength. The 5-on-5 dominance was there again while the special teams continued to contribute, even if it was only a little.
Despite all those contributions, Eberle’s struggles continued in Game 6, as he was once again unable to find the back of the net. That’s now nine straight games without a goal for the veteran winger, dating back to Game 1 of the first round against the Washington Capitals.
And look, It’s not like it’s a lack of chances for Eberle either. The first line had multiple chances off the rush. Even with recording five shots on net, Eberle was still unable to convert.
Honestly, he should have had more than five shots on net. Several opportunities for Eberle to get the puck on goal, but his lack of production resulted in failed attempts where he tried to get too cute with the puck.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and Eberle missed about three extra chances to score.
By the time the Flyers scored their second goal, they had only recorded five shots. Semyon Varlamov was not as strong as he has been through much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s likely he’ll be seeing a one or two of the goals against in his nightmares, especially the one from James Van Riemsdyk.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) September 3, 2020
Blame cannot be placed on Varlamov alone though, as the defense was uncharacteristically sloppy at too many junctures. So much so, that you could see the early frustration on head coach Barry Trotz’ face.
The defense that has catapulted the Islanders to this point in the playoffs broke down last night at inopportune times. Four out of five goals the Flyers scored were a direct result of turnovers. This includes the double-overtime winner, where an unfortunate stroke of bad luck saw Scott Mayfield’s stick break on a shot attempt, resulting in a turnover and an Ivan Provorov goal.
“The frustration level is honestly about 30 seconds and that’s about it,” New York forward Mathew Barzal said. “There’s nothing we can do. Game 6 is over now, and we’ve moved on. It’s an unfortunate play there at the end, but it happens, and now it’s a winner take all Game 7. We turned the page in the last 10 minutes …. Had a nice team talk after the game quickly and move on.”
Turnovers were the tale of this game, and both the defense and Varlamov will need to be much stronger in Game 7 to close the door to advance to the conference finals.
Game 7 of course.
Saturday night, 7:30 PM ET, the Islanders will take on the Flyers in a winner take all. The Islanders are not dwelling too much on their game six defeat, because they know what’s on the line, and all they can do is look forward and correct their mistakes.
“We understand what’s at stake,” New York forward Matt Martin said. “So, it’s Game 7, our season’s on the line, we’ll get our rest here, recover [from] a couple long games that we came up short in and we’ll just get the energy back up, get our rest and find a way to win a big game. These moments don’t come around often. Game 7s are special and we’ve got a chance to go to a conference final and our goal is to win a [Stanley] Cup.”
The Islanders did a lot of good things in Game 6, but an equal number, if not more, bad things led to the loss.
It’s as simple as getting back to Barry’s basics. Stick to the system, tighten up the defense, and play that “boring” style of hockey everyone has been raving about.
Game 7 is there for the taking. There’s still no question, Trotz will have his team ready to go.