For just the third time in Islanders History, the Isles have started a 7-game playoff series with a 2-0 lead. This isn’t to say this series hasn’t been close thus far, as both Game 1 and 2 went down to the final minutes of the third. What have the Islanders done to separate themselves from the Caps in the first couple games of a series that was anticipated by many to be a much tighter series?
The answer is quite easy. The Forecheck. All the Islanders need is a lead in the 3rd period, and their relentless forecheck will burn off the remaining minutes. In both games, the Islanders’ forecheck was so good that the Capitals rarely got the puck out of their own zone, and when they did it was quickly turned over by their tired forwards.
Additionally, the fact that the Isles have been able to have 4 productive lines has made a huge impact on the series. Every line has contributed, from Lee-Barzal-Eberle, to the fourth line headed by Casey Cizikas. Having everyone contributing has been massive for Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz, as he doesn’t have to worry about who he is sending out.
This one is easy. Anthony Beauvillier has been the Islanders best player since Game 1 of the qualifiers. In fact, the Islanders forward is on a record-setting 6 game point streak to start the playoffs, tying Mike Bossy’s record of 6 straight playoff games with a point. Beauvillier will look to extend that streak, and break Bossy’s record Sunday at 12:00 PM.
Who Should Come Out of the Lineup
Leo Komarov is the answer here. He hasn’t been bad, but he is dragging the third line’s potential down. Tom Kuhnhackl was a major contributor to the Islanders’ success in the qualifiers, though Barry Trotz opted to go with the more defensively-minded Leo Komarov against the Caps. Starting Kuhnhackl over Komarov is the one lineup change that the Islanders should make, though Barry Trotz doesn’t like to make lineup changes after wins.
The Islanders came out flying in Game 3, much unlike their slow starts to Games 1 and 2. They forechecked well, got Grade A chances, but were only able to net one goal, a beautiful slap pass from Adam Pelech right to Anders Lee’s stick that fooled Washington goaltender Braden Holtby. This would be the only goal that Holtby allowed during regulation, as he kept his team in the game, allowing them to eventually tie the game up in the second period on a power play goal by Evgeny Kuznetzov.
The game would remain tied and needed overtime to decide the winner. There were chances at both sides of the ice, namely a breakaway from Capital winger Jakub Vrana whose chance was stopped by Varlamov. A minute later, Derick Brassard hits Eberle on a
cross-ice pass, which sets up an eventual goal for the isles. Eberle gave a short pass to Barzal, who brought the puck in on a partial breakaway, decked out Holtby, and deposited the puck in a wide open net to give the Islanders a 3-0 series lead.