Tonight, the NHL Playoffs kicked off with a spirited match up between two Metropolitan Division rivals. At the end of the night, the Islanders would take Game 1 in overtime, in front of a raucous crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders got off to a quick start when Tom Kuhnhackl skated in the zone and sent a beautiful wrist shot which beat Murray high to the glove side, just 33 seconds into the game. Unfortunately Matt Martin was slow coming back to the bench and was offsides on the play, nullifying the goal. However, about a minute later, Jordan Eberle would net a goal, that would count, and got the crowd back in the game.
The lead wouldn’t last long, as Phil Kessel would notch his first of the playoffs. It came 4 minutes after the Eberle got the opening goal. Kessel beat Robin Lehner five hole in the slot, after Cizikas lost an edge in the neutral zone.
After some great back and forth action between the two teams, the Penguins would find themselves on the penalty kill late in the first period. The Islanders would score a power play goal off the rush, giving them the lead heading into the intermission. The goal coming from Brock Nelson.
At the start of the second period, the Islanders would get the early momentum, but could not capitalize with it, and after some great action that yielded no results, the Islanders would find themselves on the penalty kill. It would be Evgeny Malkin who would provide the power play goal for the Penguins. A great wrist shot that went off of Adam Pelech’s stick and over Lehner’s shoulder and in the net.
In the third period, much like the second period, all of the action came at the back half of the period. It started when Erik Gudbranson and Anders Lee both went awkwardly into the boards at the 9 minute mark of the period. When the dust settled, Anders Lee earned a boarding penalty and Gudbranson went straight to the Penguins locker room. The Penguins would fail to score on the ensuing power play.
3 minutes later, the Islanders would score the go ahead goal. Nick Leddy would take a shot from the point and it would knuckle past a screened Matt Murray, off the post and in. The Penguins then ramped it into high gear to try and tie the game, but were unsuccessful for a while because the Islanders defense was playing well. With about a minute thirty left in the game, the Penguins would pull their goalie, giving them the extra man. With their experience in the playoffs, they didn’t panic and Justin Shultz would net a goal from the point, that beat a screened Lehner.
The Islanders had a chance to win the game off the rush before the end of the third. Josh Bailey would get a glorious chance in the slot that hit the post as time was expiring. This game would be the first playoff game to go to overtime.
It would only take a little over 4 minutes to find a winner. Matthew Barzal would skate to the slot, stop and tried to beat Murray on the back hand. His shot hit the post and the rebound came right to Josh Bailey, who slotted it home to seal the victory for the Islanders.
My 3 Stars of the Game
Third Star: Phil Kessel (1g, 1a)
Second Star: Jordan Eberle (1g, 1a)
First Star: Josh Bailey (OTGWG)
Game 2 of the series will be Friday night at 730p on NBCSN.