GAME 1. TO THE ISLAND.
Game 1 on Saturday between the Islanders and Panthers went to New York, with the Isles edging out the Panthers 2-1. It was a close game, as represented by the tight score. However, the Islanders did exactly what they needed to do in Game One, which was forcing Florida to play the Islanders’ close-checking defensive game.
From the first puck drop, the Islanders dumped and chased, a staple of their game. Florida couldn’t get the puck out of their defensive-zone easily, which led to the Islanders first goal, scored by trade deadline acquisition Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The goal came off of a turnover caused by forward Tom Kuhnlhackl, whose turnover led to Derrick Brassard setting Pageau up in front of the net for a huge opening goal.
This goal set the tone for the first period, but the Islanders wouldn’t come until the second period on a penalty, taken by Florida’s Mike Matheson after he delivered a hit to Johnny Boychuk’s head that could be considered dirty. This hit would knock Boychuk out of the game (concussion protocol), but would set up Anthony Beauvillier’s one-timer that gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead. After Florida scored in the opening minute of the third, Beauvillier’s goal would stand as the game-winning-goal in Game 1.
As a whole, the Islanders played well, especially Anthony Beauvillier, whose goal and constant forecheck were massive contributors to the Islanders triumph over the Panthers in Game One. However, Mathew Barzal was held off the scoresheet, and wasn’t a game-changer. Florida did a good job shutting Barzal down, although he did create some chances that ended in saves. Barzal will need to improve in Games 2 and 3, as the Islanders look to win this 5 game qualifier.