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Islanders: Three Takeaways from Game 1 Win over Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 20: Scott Mayfield #24, Brock Nelson #29, Anthony Beauvillier #18, Josh Bailey #12 and Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders celebrate a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 20, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 20: Scott Mayfield #24, Brock Nelson #29, Anthony Beauvillier #18, Josh Bailey #12 and Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders celebrate a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 20, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders needed a gutsy late effort to come from behind and win Game One of their first-round playoff series in Pittsburgh.

The New York Islanders needed a big third period in order to come back and win game one of their opening-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They got that big period and then some, as they take an important win on Pittsburgh ice.

Here are three takeaways from game one.

1. A Strong Showing from Pageau, Palmieri, the Islanders Bottom Nine Forwards

The Islanders top line of Leo Komarov, Mathew Barzal, and Jordan Eberle was mostly quiet on Sunday. None of the three first-line forwards appeared on the scoresheet in game one, but that was made up for by a strong performance from J-G Pageau and the rest of the Isles forwards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders bottom-six forward group outshot the Penguins at 5v5 20-13. That bottom six group featured two of the best players in game 1 – Pageau and Kyle Palmieri – who tallied two goals on the day including the OT winner.

Hockey Stat Cards has Pageau and Palmieri listed as the top two players from both teams on the Game Score list. Game Score is a catch-all metric used to quantify a player’s overall performance. Hockey Stat Cards uses the Game Score formula created by The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn.

The Islanders line of Palmieri – Pageau – Wahlstrom were particularly strong, as they controlled more than 60% of total and unblocked shot attempts at 5v5. They took home over 59% of Expected Goals, (xGF%) and scored three actual goals combined to power the New York offense.

The Islanders fourth line, a group that faced its fair share of struggles during the regular season, had a strong game one by throwing the body, forechecking well, and playing well in their own zone.

Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck in particular saw lots of time on what was a very good Islanders penalty kill. But Pageau and Leo Komarov were every bit as good there too, which resulted in an Isles PK that killed all three penalties they faced, and limited Pittsburgh’s scoring opportunities well.

Palmieri probably saw the best chance to score that the Islanders had on their four-minute power-play in the second period, and despite failing to convert, that was one of the lone bright spots for that New York man-advantage unit.

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