Within the first few minutes of game six starting on Wednesday night, you could feel it.
You could feel it when Ryan Pulock let that first clapper go 13 seconds in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. You could feel it when Adam Pelech laid a big hit (some thought it would be called for a tripping infraction) on Charlie McAvoy in the offensive zone. And you damn sure could feel it as the Islanders kept on coming before Travis Zajac potted home a rebound past Rask to open the scoring at 8:52 of the first period.
The Isles came ready to play last night and weren’t going to allow Boston any hope of a possible game seven back in Beantown on Friday. They ended their second-round series with an emphatic 6-2 win in Game 6 in front of a wild crowd inside Nassau Coliseum. It was the Islanders’ most complete effort from start to finish throughout the series and the playoffs.
“[It was] definitely a total team effort,” said Josh Bailey. “I think you need everyone to beat a team like that. I thought from Varlamov right on out, I thought everyone in the lineup was contributing and playing the way we needed to play to get the win.”
What a play by Bailey! What a play by Brock!
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) June 10, 2021
For 60 minutes, it was a clinic put on by the blue and orange. Head coach Barry Trotz’s troops attacked the Bruins at both ends and made their lives miserable more than any point they had during the series. Even after Boston’s Brad Marchand tied the game late in the first period on a power play goal, they came right back with strong shift after strong shift and nearly regained the lead as the buzzer sounded when Kyle Palmieri hit the crossbar.
That persistence and their continuous forecheck by the offense would end up resulting in a three-goal second period, including two consecutive goals from Brock Nelson. But it wasn’t just on offense where the Islanders couldn’t be contained. In the physicality department, they wore down the Bruins by hitting everything in sight.
There must have not been one shift the entire night where at least one Bruin was crunched by someone in an Islander sweater. Just ask McAvoy, who Palmieri tortured all game long. Palmieri also scored again for a third straight game and for a team-leading seventh time. Beyond Palmieri, Leo Komarov and the fourth line acted as if they were wrecking balls, throwing their weight around which the rowdy, party-like crowd inside the Coliseum couldn’t get enough of.
Speaking of the crowd, they were just as nonstop as their team was all evening with sticking it to the Bruins. The chants of “New York Saints”, “Tuukka” and the soccer style “Ohhh” rang at length over and over until the final seconds.
Now it’s Kyle Palmieri who floors McAvoy behind the net pic.twitter.com/GO2eo1hJO3
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 9, 2021
“What a great atmosphere,” Trotz said after the win. “It was deafening. I couldn’t hear anything out there I had some white noise for a while. It was fantastic.”
We can’t talk about how relentless the Islanders played without talking about their terrific defensive effort. They made it a point to be hard on the Bruins forwards and allow them no space to work. The shot blocking, ability to have clear zone and the back checking from up and down the lineup was superb. Just three shots were allowed after the Bruins cut the lead to two in the third. That’s incredible to believe. Almost as impressive as them not conceding a single shot in the final 6:18 of regulation in their Game 4 win.
Hats off to Nick Leddy too. He had his best game of the postseason and made some monster defensive plays throughout the night.
The Islanders now set their sights on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that knocked them out in the Conference finals in the bubble last summer and went on to win it all. There will be some revenge on the minds of the players and most definitely Trotz, who before this season began said he would take that series loss “to his grave”. That series will probably begin this weekend.
But for the next day or so, the Isles and their fans can enjoy what was a tremendous performance in another series-clinching win. Because from the moment Game 6 began, you could feel they weren’t leaving anything for chance. They were relentless and they beatdown the Bruins at every turn.
Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_