If you didn’t realize it by now, J.G. Pageau lives for the big moments, especially in the postseason. On Sunday afternoon, he continued to add to his legend.
Pageau, who was far and away the Islanders’ best player all game, once again was front and center in helping his club steal home ice with a 4-3 OT win in game one over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The forward led the team with three points — one goal and two assists — and took 26 faceoffs, winning 11 draws.
“If you look at the two trade deadline acquisitions, last year Pageau, this year Palmieri, they’re veteran guys that are proven,” Barry Trotz said to the media postgame. “When it comes to playoff hockey, in big moments you rely on their experience, their character is exceptional.”
Several of the Isles’ top forwards struggled most of the afternoon, which made things difficult to try and generate offense. The second and third lines did most of the heavy lifting, which in part was due to Pageau having that extra gear. And when the Isles needed to tilt the ice, it was he who came through once again.
🗣️ Pageauuuu, Pageau, Pageau, Pageauuuu
A snipe to tie it! 🤩 #ItsOn pic.twitter.com/nEILlUwsrf
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 16, 2021
Since joining the Islanders at last season’s deadline, Pageau has earned a reputation of playing well beyond his 5’10 frame. In the bubble last summer, he had some memorable performances (hi, Brian Boyle) and clutch goals. That has continued even with his struggles in the backhalf of the regular season. His snipe past Pittsburgh netminder Tristan Jarry early in the third to get the game even.
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“He played an awesome game,” said Kyle Palmieri. The second of Pageau’s two helpers on the day helped in setting up Palmieri’s winner. “He was a sparkplug for us all night.”
If the Islanders are going to have a chance to win this series, getting the same type of game from Pageau is crucial moving forward. Already being without Anders Leen is brutal, and someone like Pageau has the opportunity to mimic some of those leadership tendenacies. That was evident Sunday. Pageau was a menace and reminded everyone — especially the Penguins all throughout game one — the effect he can have on a game and his respective club. Heck, even the folks at MSG created a graphic to prove it after the game. Fittingly enough, they dubbed it “The Pageau Effect”.
Although it’s one game, Pageau looked playoff ready. He also wasn’t the biggest story to come out of his team’s win — that recognition belonged to Palmieri — which might even be a more impressive feat.
Instead, Pageau was the maestro that played a familiar tune and it was sweet music to his team and the fans ears.
The one now known as “The Playoff Performer”.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_