After sweeping all three regular-season matchups against their Metropolitan Division rivals, the Islanders wasted no time seizing a lead in their playoff showdown at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena.
Andy Greene, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Anders Lee and Devon Toews (empty net) scored the goals for the victors, while goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped all 29 shots he faced.
- Semyon Varlamov, G, NYI: 29 saves
- Andy Greene, D, NYI: 1 goal
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI: 1 goal
- Anders Lee, LW, NYI: 1 goal
- Devon Toews, D, NYI: 1 goal
Andy Greene Sets the Tone, Pageau and Lee Put It Away
To say the Islanders were dominant in the first period would be quite the understatement.
After all, they enjoyed a 15-4 advantage in shots on goal, controlled play with the forecheck, created the better opportunities in front of the net and had the only power play of the opening 20 minutes.
It is a testament to Philadelphia goaltender Carter Hart, who had two shutouts in the first-round win over the Montreal Canadiens, that New York was up just 1-0 heading into the second.
That one came from Greene, who fired a slap shot from distance to open the scoring and then made an excellent defensive play to save a goal and preserve the lead in the final minute of the first period by sticking his leg out and blocking a point-blank shot.
It was the exact veteran leadership and versatility the Islanders were surely looking for when they acquired Greene from the New Jersey Devils in a February trade and put the team in a position where one more goal would qualify as breathing room.
Pageau gave New York just that in the third period when he found himself all alone in front of the net with multiple Flyers battling for the puck behind the goal. There was nothing Hart could do despite his impressive start to the game, and the Islanders all but put it away when Lee scored in transition off a beautiful pass from Mathew Barzal.
Semyon Varlamov Continues His Recent Brilliance
The game seemingly switched in between the first and second periods, as Philadelphia started creating almost every offensive chance after being thoroughly outplayed out of the gates.
The Flyers started winning races to pucks, creating offensive chances with the forecheck and building momentum with consistent opportunities near the goal. However, Varlamov met every challenge when New York could have easily lost control of the game during the onslaught.
Instead, the Islanders preserved the lead heading into the final period thanks largely to their goaltender.
It was more of the same for Varlamov, who didn't allow a single goal while eliminating the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Islanders' first-round series. He also allowed just one goal in Game 3 and posted a save percentage of .920 or better in all but one of the five games against Washington.
Facing an offense with playmakers such as Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux right after fending off the Capitals was no easy task, but Varlamov stood on his head in another brilliant performance.
Game 2 of the series is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.