3. Islanders Found some Puck Luck in Game Four Win
In my previous three takeaways from game three, I talked about how the Islanders needed to find a way to score some goals, and how puck luck would likely play something of a role in that. They scored thrice in Game Four, equalling their combined total from Games Two and Three, and won because of it.
Now, when I say the Islanders found some puck luck, I don’t mean to say they weren’t the deserving winners of Game Four, and I don’t mean that their goals were flukey or otherwise exclusively luck-driven either.
What I mean to say is that pucks simply started finding twine rather than pads or posts in Game Four. The Islanders beat Andrei Vasilevskiy clean twice in Game One, and then pretty much failed to do so throughout the following two contests.
Brock Nelson’s Game Two goal was clean-ish, but it was also the direct result of a flubbed clearing attempt by Ryan McDonagh.
But then Josh Bailey receives a perfect cross-seam pass from Brock Nelson and beats the 2021 Vezina finalist high on the glove side with a perfectly placed wrist shot to open the Game Four scoring. Remember, he had beaten Vasilevskiy earlier this series as well, but hit the crossbar with a backhanded attempt.
Both Tampa’s high-danger save percentage (HDSV%) and high-danger shooting percentage (HDSH%) for this series fell after Game Four. Meanwhile, the Islanders’ HDSV% and HDSH% rose to the point where both teams are just about equal in those categories headed back to Tampa for Game Five.
This isn’t to say the Islanders have Tampa reeling or anything either because that’s not what I’m doing, it’s simply stating that throughout Games Two and Three Tampa were the beneficiaries of some great puck luck while the Islanders were victims of very little to no puck luck at all.
With the teams now on more even footing in the shooting and goaltending success departments, Games Five and Six will certainly be fascinating to watch unfold.