Let me preface this by saying the Islanders weren’t as bad as many believed they played in their game one loss in Boston last night. Yes the score, 5-2, and shot disparity was clear once the final buzzer sounded — the Isles only recorded 22 shots to the Bruins 40 — but in every other category, the two teams were basically even.
What hurt the Islanders the most was they had golden chances to steal home ice heading into a game two showdown on Monday evening.
It was still a 2-2 game early in the third and the Isles were handed a power play for the Bruins having too many men. They failed to convert despite getting a few good looks man up from Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson. Almost like clockwork just seconds later, Charlie McAvoy sent a seeing-eye shot past Ilya Sorokin who was screened on the play which turned out to be the game-winner. And there lies the Islanders’ downfall.
“The playoffs comes down to a chip-in, or a shot, but you just have to stay on top of them and play the way that we know got us here, execute when we can,” forward Jordan Eberle said after the loss. “We’re a veteran team, we’re going to regroup from this and get ready for Game 2.”
In what many expect to be a tight series — and make no mistake Saturday’s night opener was every bit that style before the Bruins were able to break it open in the final frame — the Islanders capitalizing on their chances when they get them is critical. Sure they got the early power play goal from Anthony Beauvillier to open the scoring and Adam Pelech’s rocket to tie the game after the B’s took the lead in the second, but there were other several moments that could have helped result in a different outcome.
The offense had opportunities to take the lead back early in the middle frame on the power play but didn’t record a shot; they ended up only having four shots the rest of the period, with Pelech’s goal being one of them. Right after McAvoy’s goal as well, Kyle Palmieri nearly got the equalizer but put a shot wide of the Bruins net. The rest of the third was a struggle. “I didn’t think we were that bad in the third, they just had a couple of opportunities and capitalized on them,” said d-man Andy Greene. “We just have to create a bit more there.”
If we learned anything from the Penguins series, it is that timely goals help the Isles not only wake up a bit but helps them establish or play their game. That’s doubled now because of how lethal the Bruins’ attack is. Every time the Islanders couldn’t score at a big moment Saturday, Boston did. It also helps the B’s have someone like David Pastrnak, who ended up recording a hat trick.
Seeing what Pastrnak did is something Islanders fans can hope to see from a Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle or another one of their top-end forwards as the series progresses on. To do that, they need to avoid what took place in game one. Barzal and Eberle were quiet again for what seems like the umpteenth time this postseason. Barzal specifically just can’t seem to get anything going. Right before Pelech netted his goal, he came close to tying the game. Outside of that chance, he struggled to do anything offensively.
The Islanders now are in a must-win situation heading into Monday night. Coming back home down 2-0 would be the least ideal scenario. The missed opportunities in game one played a big role in why they were defeated. If it happens again, the Isles could be in serious trouble.