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Islanders take 2-1 series lead on the back of a solid Varlamov performance

Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders start slow but dominate in 3-1 win over Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 for 2-1 playoff series lead.

With a two day break following NHL players sitting out in solidarity with other athletes around the world after the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police, the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers were back in action.

After getting pulled early in Game 2 when Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov allowed three goals on ten shots, he was clearly looking to redeem himself in Game 3.

With that extra two day break following the postponement, there should be no excuse for tired legs. After the showing in the first period of Game 2, the Islanders have no excuse to not push to get on the board first in the opening frame.

Better Than it Looked

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Islanders started the first period slowly. Again, there’s no excuse for it, but it happened. Although in retrospect, perhaps Barry Trotz’s plan was to rope-a-dope the Flyers with a flat opening 20?

The Isles weren’t quick out of the gates. They didn’t press the Flyers. They weren’t physical. And they were down early for it.

With a good cycle in the Islanders end, the Flyers third line was able to get a screened shot from Tytler Pitlick through Semyon Varlamov to take a 1-0 lead in the game.

But we’ve seen the Islanders do this countless times before. They start slow but through the rest of the contest, they find their legs. And while the Islanders were down 1-0 after 20, every other metric indicated the Islanders were the better team.

The Isles held a 61.54 SCF%, a 71.43HDCF%, and 67.78 xGF% through the first period. If not for Carter Hart, the Isles would hold the advantage on the scoreboard too.

For Boompa

Before the 2020 postseason, Matt Martin had one playoff goal in his career. It came all the way back in Game 2 of the Islanders first-round matchup against the Penguins in 2013. Leading into Game 3, Martin already had two playoff goals this season.

He’d get his third goal in this playoff when he found himself almost comically wide open in the Flyers zone.

This is what happens when Mathew Barzal starts to heat up in the game.

Prior to this goal, Barzal missed on a good wrap around attempt and then seconds later missing the net on a one-timer. Barzal was finding time and space so naturally, the Flyers started to double team him more. But even with two Flyers defensemen on him along the wall, Barzal still made the play to set up Martin.

That one was for Boompa.

With constant forechecking and endless pressure, the Islanders tilted the ice in their favor. Through the second frame, the Islanders held a 15-6 advantage in shots, a 61.11 SCF%, a 71.43 HDCF% (again), and an improved (somehow) 70.61 xGF%.

And with that not only did they get on the board to tie the game through Matt Martin, but they also took the lead.

This time it was the Islanders third line getting the job done. Derick Brassard who looked lost through the game to this point worked hard down low to find Leo Komarov and with a backhanded effort, the puck squeaked by Carter Hart.

Kill It

With a lead going into the final frame, the Islanders needed to manage it out and kill the game. Getting a goal early would do that. Easier said than done of course.

With a power play in the first few minutes, the Islanders got their chance. Usually, an Islanders power play isn’t something that creates a lot of hope. Over the last two seasons, the Islanders have the 29th ranked man advantage. But in this series, the Isles hold a 25% PP. So there was a good chance the Isles could convert and take a two-goal lead.

Sure enough, Anders Lee who only had two power-play goals during a 68 game 2019-20 regular season now has two in 12 playoff games.

That was also, Lee’s sixth goal in the playoffs. In his 13 playoff games before the 2020 postseason, Lee had only found the back of the net once. We wondered where Anders Lee was in the Florida series, it seems he was just growing into the postseason because now he can’t stop scoring.

By stopping 26 of 27 shots, including a game-saving stop on Joel Farabee in the later stages of the third period, Varlamov played the hero for the Islanders as they pick up their second win in a second-round series for the first time since 1993.

Three Winners

Semyon Varlamov: 26 saves, 0.963SV%
Leo Komarov: 1G (GWG), 4SOG
Jordan Eberle: 2A

Three Losers

Carter Hart: 3 GA, 0.897SV%
Sean Couturier: -1, 1 SOG
Jakub Voracek: -1, 1 SOG

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