The New York Islanders failed to close out the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 dropping the contest 4-3 in OT.
Neither side made any changes to their lineups for Game 5. Keeping the same roster was something of a surprise for the New York Islanders. After the Isles took Game 4 by a score of 3-2, head coach Barry Trotz said his team’s effort was “the worst” of the playoffs.
With a 3-1 series deficit, you’d expect the Flyers to make a change. But the Flyers issue isn’t with depth players on the roster, it’s the top line. Through four games in this series, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Jakob Voracek have combined for four points.
Elimination games are the hardest ones to win. Both coaches had full confidence that their team could get the ‘W’ in Game 5.
Just as any Islanders fan would have predicted, the Philadelphia Flyers came out strong in the opening frame. At 5on5 through the first period, the Flyers held a 9-3 shot advantage, a 64.25 SCF%, a 57.14 HDCF%, and a 64.03 xGF%.
But just as the Isles have done throughout this series, they survived the Flyers push. For any other hockey team that “survive the push” plan isn’t a sustainable option. But for the Islanders, they’ve been drilled on how to soak up pressure and find the right time to attack, that it works.
With a power-play carrying over from the first period, the Islanders started the second frame with their man-advantage that’s effective 30 percent of the time in this series. Just over a minute into the second period, Josh Bailey capitalized on a chaotic crease to pop in his third goal of the playoffs.
With another eleven helpers on his stat sheet in these playoffs, Josh Bailey now has 14 points in the postseason. Bailey has been nothing short of exemplary for the Islanders, although I’m sure his first eight years in the NHL will somehow tarnish what he’s doing right now for some.
The Isles have typically done a good job of managing a lead. Getting ahead and managing out the rest of the game is the Islanders specialty.
But as the second period progressed, the Flyers found more and more success getting the puck towards Semyon Varlamov. In the final five minutes of the period, the Flyers tied the game through a Claude Giroux re-direct, and then took the lead on a James Van Riemsdyk finish on a 2-on-1.
Leaving it Late
Down one goal and twenty minutes to play, you’d think the Islanders would finally have a jump to their game. But nothing really came until the closing minutes.
That lack of urgency allowed the Flyers to get an insurance goal by Matt Niskanen. Now the Flyers held a comfortable 3-1 lead with 15 minutes left on the clock.
It took a while for the Islanders to get going in this period. Like a stressfully long time to get going. While most of us had given up hope that the Islanders could turn things around, the Isles never did.
First, it was Brock Nelson who sniped a shot in the toy department over Carter Hart. Josh Bailey would get his second point in the game on that play and bringing his total playoff production to 15 points in 14 games.
After Niskanen’s goal the Islanders shelled the Flyers goal with nine shots to one. The ninth one (thanks to Brock Nelson) finally went in.
And then just over a minute and a half later, Derrick Brassard would get the equalizer after an incredible behind the back pass from Cal Clutterbuck to hit Brass on the back door. Brassard just had to tap it into the empty net.
While Barry Trotz doesn’t get credit for an assist on this play he absolutely should. Derick Brassard was guilty of the turnover that leads to Niskanen’s goal. He also didn’t close the gap on Niskanen to try and break up his attempt on net.
As a result, Brassard was glued to the bench for much of the third. When Brassard finally got a chance, replacing Matt Martin for a shift, he made it count. That’s effective coaching right there.
Playoff overtime is never for the faint of heart, but this one between the Isles and Flyers was borderline lethal. Before the halfway mark of the extra frame, the Flyers had hit the post twice, Brock Nelson got a breakaway attempt, and Carter Hart robbed Devon Toews after a nice feed from Matt Martin.
Twelve minutes into OT Scott Laughton scores the winner to push the series to Game 6 on Thursday.
The Islanders were robbed of a delay of game call in the final frame when Carter Hart caught the puck outside of his crease. That’s a no-no. Somehow he got away with a warning. Screwing up that call won’t sit well with the fanbase.
But the Islanders had chances to win this game without requiring the official to do their jobs (I’m a little bitter too). On to Thursday where the Islanders are certainly going to set it up
Scott Laughton: GWG, 1A
Josh Bailey: 1G, 1A
Claude Giroux: 1G, 1A
Semyon Varlamov: 28 saves, 0.875SV%
Carter Hart: 29 saves, 0.906SV%
The officials: Both sides have serious questions to ask about this officiating crew after the game