The New York Islanders took it to the Philadelphia Flyers at the onset of game one, survived their push in the second period, and got to their game in the third, closing out a 4-0 win. In game two, the roles were reversed, as the Flyers stormed out of the gate, scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes and chasing starter Semyon Varlamov.
The Islanders mounted a furious comeback, tying the game late in the third on a goal by J.G Pageau. However, their incredible effort fell short as Philippe Myers bounced a shot off captain Anders Lee that skipped past Thomas Greiss for the overtime winner, knotting the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
If you look at the first two games in totality, the Islanders still seem like the team more ‘in control’ and seem to have a solid game plan for handling the Flyers, who have been struggling to get offense from some of their top performers. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Thomas Konecky have combined for one goal in their 11 ‘bubble’ games, after combining for 67 during the regular season.
In fact, Carter Hart, who was brilliant against the Montreal Canadiens and again in game one, turned in another stellar performance in game two, even in allowing three goals. If the Islanders are going to bully their way past the Flyers and into the conference finals, he appears the biggest obstacle staring New York in the face.
The NHL decided to postpone Thursday’s game three, taking time to reflect on racial injustice. Islanders captain Anders Lee spoke to the media via a zoom on Thursday evening.
“As a union, as players, we got together and started having conversations we need to have. We did the same as a team after our video session. We weren’t sure what was going to happen, but we wanted to make sure we had these conversations before anything,” Lee said. “We came to understand and really have that opportunity to support our fellow Black players in this league. They weren’t comfortable playing and we were behind them.”
The Isles, who now have two more days to rest and reflect on game two, might have preferred to get right back out there - especially Varlamov, who was expected to be in goal for game three - but realize the gravity and importance of what is occurring around the country and the need for unity rather than division. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz believes the games should and will continue, but everyone must take a long, hard look in the mirror.
“I heard the NBA is going to continue to play and in my opinion, I think all the sports should play because I think athletes in every sport have a great platform. Just like celebrities do, if you want to keep the issue in the forefront, they have a platform,” Trotz said. “Continue to play, continue to express the message and in the next step, what’s the end game? You have to know the definite end game and then I think you have to get involved. The players are going to have to get involved, I’m going to have to get involved, everybody. If you do that, that will effect change for our country and it definitely needs it right now.”
The team put out a supportive message on social media as well.
"We are in total support of our players as they use their platform to bring further attention to a movement important to them, our organization and our game. We will continue to work together as we promote equality and to end racial and social injustice"
The series will resume with game three on Saturday. The league will announce the schedule and starting time at some point Friday.