With a convincing 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders will move on to the playoffs.
Stay out of the box. Kill the penalties you do take. Get Mathew Barzal going. That’s what the New York Islanders needed to do in order to close out the Florida Panthers in Game 4 to progress to the playoffs.
And by-God, that’s exactly what they did to book their ticket to the playoffs.
Beau Knows Goals
With his team facing elimination, Joel Quenneville changed things up by having Noel Acciari play against Anthony Beauvillier’s line rather than Mathew Barzal.
In the three previous matches, Acciari hounded Barzal at 5on5 for 18:40, the most for a Panther forward, and it worked. Barzal was ineffective for the Islanders in those first three games. But Beauvillier has been running rampant over Florida, stopping him could mean stopping the Isles. So Quenneville set Acciari on Beauvillier.
It doesn’t seem to matter who’s on the ice against Beau. In 15 minutes of game time, Beau had found the net twice. None nicer than his first goal on a blind backhand attempt.
Throughout the first period and into the rest of the proceedings, Barry Trotz had a clear goal in mind “Get. Barzal. Going.”
The coach had his top player all over the lineup to try different combinations to give his star player a spark. Of course, it was Beauvillier who would give Barzal that spark when he converted his second goal of the game (third of the series) on a great feed from Barzal.
Barzal had a clear step in his game from that moment on. A shift later he split the defense and fired a good looking backhand that was met by Bobrovsky.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Islanders game without a bit of drama. One of the keys to the game was to not make dumb plays like the Islanders did in Game 3. Penalties for too-many-men-on-the-ice and playing the puck in the trapezoid cost the Isles the game.
Jordan Eberle didn’t get the memo. With 1:22 left in the first, Eberle takes an offensive zone hooking penalty and the Panthers power play converts off the stick of Mike Hoffman almost immediately.
This game would come down to special teams. The Florida Panthers firepower on the man advantage has been clear all series long, but the same can be said of New York Islanders. Through three games the Isles were 3-for-13 (23.1%) on the man advantage.
That efficiency continued with Josh Bailey feeding Brock Nelson with a great cross-ice pass for the Isles fourth power-play goal of the series.
Mathew Barzal, still feeling the freeing effects of no Noel Acciari in his shadow and from that earlier link up with Anthony Beauvillier finally found his opening to make his mark in the series with a great heads-up play by linemate Jordan Eberle.
It took a while for Mathew Barzal to make his appearance in the series, but with him, the Isles were able to win comfortably and book their ticket into the round of 16 where they’ll face someone at some point at some time.
This also means that the Isles first overall pick now officially transfers to the Ottawa Senators.
Anthony Beauvillier: 2G, 5SOG
Good things happen when you just have fun.
Semyon Varlamov: 1GA, 24SVS, 0.960SV%
His performance was quietly efficient for the Islanders and gave them the stability they needed to play their game.
Mathew Barzal: 1G, 1A, 5SOG
The Islanders needed the Barzal to step out of the shadows in Game 4 and that’s what the Islanders centerman did.
Sergei Bobrovsky: 5GA, 33SVS, 0.892SV%
Today was not Bob’s day. That first goal by Beauvillier caught the Russian goalie by surprise and set the tone for the rest of his afternoon.
Brett Connolly: -3
The former Stanley Cup champ was nowhere to be found in this game.
Erik Haula: -3
Brought in as part of the Vincent Trochek trade, Haula was supposed to be a big part of a more defensive-minded Florida team. That wasn’t the case today with a -3.