UNIONDALE, NY (AP) — Brock Nelson scored twice in another big second spell through New York, Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots and the Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock also scored to help the Islanders set up a rematch with defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.
With the Bruins on the power play, Marchand got the puck in front of the net and put a backhander past Varlamov from the right at 5:38 of the third to narrow Boston’s deficit to 4-2. It was Marchand’s fifth of the series and eighth of the postseason.
The Islanders’ stifling defense limited the Bruins to just five shots on target in the third. As the minutes of Boston’s season drew to a close, New York closed the Bruins in their end of the ice, preventing them from pulling Rask for an extra skater until 1:25 left.
Clutterbuck scored an empty netter with 59 seconds left to seal it, and Pulock added another 11 seconds later.
The score was tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes, but the Islanders took control with another great second period. After beating the Bruins 8-3 in the middle bouts of the first five games, New York had three more in the second – for the third time in the series.
The Islanders went into their first power play of the game 2:18 into the second period when Karson Kuhlman was caught tripping Mathew Barzal. The Islanders managed to shoot on target once during the lead. Shortly after the power play ended, Varlamov had a kick save on Patrice Bergeron from the right at 4:36.
Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk, took off in a breakaway and defeated Rask in the top right corner at 5:20 to put New York 2-1.
Varlamov made consecutive saves on attempts by Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle with 8 1/2 minutes left in the middle period to keep the islanders’ lead and chants of “Var-ly! Var-ly!” of the home crowd.
Josh Bailey stole an exhaust pass from Rask and fueled Nelson with a streak to the net, and Nelson beat the keeper from the right with 7:23 left in the second for his second of the night on the sixth of the playoffs.
With the Bruins trailing 3-1 in the knockout game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy broke his Perfection Line from David Pastrnak-Marchand-Bergeron.
However, the Islanders increased the lead to 4-1 when Adam Pelech fired off a shot from the left that was stopped by Rask. However, Palmieri ducked in, grabbed the rebound and set it from the right for his seventh of the postseason.
With the Nassau Coliseum crowd roaring from before the puck drop, the game started quickly with plenty of hard knocks on both sides.
The Islanders came first on the scoreboard. After a faceoff in the attack zone, Noah Dobson fired a shot from the right point which was stopped by Rask. However, the rebound kicked in front and Zajac grabbed it and made it at 8:52 for his first goal this postseason.
Boston continued the power play with 5:47 in the first when Anthony Beauvillier was called out for tripping Charlie McAvoy. Casey Cizikas was called up for a tripping penalty with 4 minutes to go, putting the Bruins on a 5-on-3 run for 14 seconds.
It attracted chants of ‘New York Saints! New York Saints!” from the crowd, a reference to what Cassidy called the Islanders when they complained about the imbalance in penalties after Game 4.
The Islanders killed the first penalty, but Marchand tied the score with 2:24 to go when he received a cross-ice pass from Pastrnak into the right circle and Varlamov quickly bet high on the side of the glove.
The Islanders were opportunistic with the man advantage in the playoffs, converting 28% of their odds after going 0 to 1 in Game 6. During the season, New York was 20th in the league with 18.8%.
The Bruins scored in 21.9% of their chances during the season and increased that to 36.4% in the playoffs. after a 2-for-3 attempt. They finished 7 for 14 during this series.
The Bruins were without center Curtis Lazar and defenders Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. Lazar was injured in the second period of Game 5 in a collision with Adam Pelech of the Islanders. Jake DeBrush took Larzar’s place in the lineup. Carlo has been out since Cal Clutterbuck hit in Game 3. Miller, injured in the first round against Washington, was not ready to return.
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