The New York Islanders and Boston Bruins are tied at two games apiece in the Stanley Cup playoffs following New York's 4-1 win Saturday at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
David Krejci drew first blood for the Bruins with 3:57 gone in the first period. The Bruins' lead didn't last long as Kyle Palmieri tied things up at the 6:38 mark, notching his fifth goal of the postseason.
Mat Barzal dealt the decisive blow in the third period, and the Islanders got two empty-netters late in the game to seal the result.
Compared to Saturday's earlier game (a 6-4 victory for the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes), the back-and-forth affair was a welcome antidote for hockey fans who enjoy a defensive struggle.
Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins: 30 saves, .938 save percentage
Semyon Varlamov, G, Islanders: 28 saves, .955 save percentage
Mat Barzal, C, Islanders: one goal, one assist, three shots, one takeaway
Islanders Not Ready to Say Goodbye to Nassau Coliseum
From the outset, the Islanders showed the kind of urgency you'd expect from a team that knew it was basically in a must-win situation.
The first period set the tone with two fights that resulted in a pair of five-minute penalties for each team. This was a physical game in which the Islanders fed off the home crowd in Uniondale.
While fans are returning to arenas and stadiums in larger numbers, it has still been tough to replicate the kind of atmosphere fans have come to expect in big games with venues not at capacity.
The energy inside Nassau Coliseum was readily apparent to those watching the action.
The performance of Semyon Varlamov can't go unnoticed, either. He was a steady presence between the pipes, and it was a strong response after he let in Brad Marchand's overtime winner in Game 3.
Pastrnak Left to Rue Early Miss
After the scoreless first period, it looked like the outcome would be decided by which goaltender was a victim of bad luck or a critical mistake late in the game. It was a case of the former for Tuukka Rask.
In general, Rask played well. He kept the game deadlocked in the opening frame with a pad save on Anthony Beauvillier. In the second period, he got low to stop a wrist shot from Josh Bailey.
There wasn't much he could do for Barzal's winner as the puck took a deflection and bounced perfectly into the path of the Islanders center.
Speaking of bad luck, David Pastrnak will probably be replaying this moment over again.
You would've bet the house on Pastrnak scoring with the net that wide open.
Boston ultimately scored first anyway, and it's impossible to say with any certainty whether the Bruins win if he scores there. But those kind of missed opportunities can take on a larger significance in the playoffs.
The puck drops for Game 5 on Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Boston's TD Garden.