Islanders Advance with Game 6 Win over Sidney Crosby, Penguins; Will Face Bruins

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 27, 2021

New York Islanders' Brock Nelson (29) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The New York Islanders won their first-round East Division playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins by defeating the visitors 5-3 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven matchup Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders scored three goals within a three-minute span midway through the second period to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 edge.

Islanders center Brock Nelson tied the game before teammate Ryan Pulock added the game-winning tally 13 seconds later. Nelson then got his second goal of the game with 8:26 remaining in the second period.

The two teams were tied at two after one period. Pittsburgh left wing Jason Zucker gave the Pens a 3-2 edge before the Islanders' three-goal spurt.

Pittsburgh lost despite outshooting New York 37-24 on goal. Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin had 34 saves.

The Islanders have now advanced to the second round of the NHL playoffs for the third straight year. New York also eliminated Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2019 playoffs with a four-game sweep.

Notable Performances

Penguins LW Jason Zucker: 1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG

Penguins LW Jake Guentzel: 1 G, 1 SOG

Penguins C Evgeni Malkin: 2 A, 2 SOG

Islanders RW Josh Bailey: 2 A, 3 SOG

Islanders LW Anthony Beauvillier: 1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG

Islanders C Brock Nelson: 2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG

Nelson-Led 2nd-Period Goal Frenzy Guides Islanders to Series Win

A fast-paced, frenetic game played out over the first 28 minutes, with the two teams combining for five goals.

The Penguins appeared to have the upper hand, but the Islanders had other ideas.

Nelson took a beautiful pass from Josh Bailey and one-timed it past goaltender Tristan Jarry for the equalizer:

x - New York Islanders @NYIslanders

SLAP PASS. pic.twitter.com/xh02mitIgE

The Islanders only needed 13 seconds to take the lead. This time, Pulock fired a blue-line laser past Jarry for the 4-3 advantage:

x - New York Islanders @NYIslanders

πŸš€ Pulock πŸš€ pic.twitter.com/qC622eDUch

That score tied a franchise playoff record:

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock scored 13 seconds apart to match the @NYIslanders franchise playoff record for fastest two goals in a game. #StanleyCup #NHLStats: https://t.co/L8mhUnOu2p pic.twitter.com/V33XYl9zoF

Nelson then gave the Islanders an insurance goal as he skated into the slot, found an opening in the Penguins defense and snuck this one through Jarry's five-hole.

x - New York Islanders @NYIslanders

Nelson in the slot makes it 5-3! pic.twitter.com/TSiO1HoiSZ

The Penguins outshot the Islanders 28-14 in the final two periods, but it didn't matter as the Islanders outscored Pittsburgh 3-1 en route to the series win.

Nelson, who has appropriately been given the nickname "Big Game Brock" by Mollie Walker of the New York Post, was ultimately the hero.

The team's leading goalscorer came through once again, turning the tide of this game with a fantastic three-minute stretch.

The eight-year NHL veteran nearly had a hat trick with a third goal in the final minute, but his shot rang off the post of an empty net.

That didn't matter, however, as Big Game Brock guided New York to the series win.

Penguins' Goaltending Falters When Needed Most

The Penguins outshot the Islanders in each of New York's four series wins, and Pittsburgh notably outshot New York 87-52 over Games 5 and 6.

However, New York outscored the Pens 8-5 in the final two games, leading to the series victory.

The simplest way to explain this series is by looking at the difference in net.

On the Penguins' end, this was not Jarry's best effort. He allowed a goal on 20.3 percent of the shots faced Wednesday, putting the Penguins in a serious bind.

The stats tell the story on his series:

Jake @Jake__871

When the Isles have 8 goals on 2.8 expected goals in the last two games you just have to look to the sky and laugh a littleπŸ€— pic.twitter.com/vMa4kDl5yr

MoneyPuck.com @MoneyPuckdotcom

Jarry finishes the playoffs with 8 more goals allowed than expected, the worst playoff performance for a goalie since 2014. https://t.co/wUSUVKH0Hb

His performance very well could have been the difference between the Penguins advancing and going home:

Andrew Fillipponi @ThePoniExpress

Tristan Jarry robbed this team of a long playoff run.

YinzerCrazy.com ⚫️🟑 @yinzercrazyshow

This is the best Penguins team I've seen since 2016. This is the deepest Penguins team since 2012. This team is being killed...absolutely killed, by one man and his name is Tristan Jarry. I'm sorry but that's all there is to it.

On the other end, Sorokin was sensational, posting 146 saves in four Islander playoff wins and earning a .942 SV%.

Jarry has played far better than he showed during this series, even getting a third-place vote for the Vezina Trophy last year after posting a 2.43 GAA and .921 SV%. He won 25 games this year en route to helping the Pens earn the East Division title.

But Jarry simply played poorly against the Islanders, who took advantage of their opportunities and benefitted from great goaltending via Sorokin to get the job done.

What's Next?

The New York Islanders will face the Boston Bruins to determine the East Division champion. The best-of-seven series will begin in Boston. The day and time for Game 1 have yet to be determined.