The Flyers’ magical postseason ride is over. Top-seeded Philadelphia staved off elimination with gutsy performances in Games 5 and 6 (both required overtime), but the decisive Game 7 went to New York with the Islanders claiming a convincing 3-0 win in Saturday’s series finale at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. With Philadelphia headed home, the Islanders now advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against second-seeded Tampa Bay, fresh off a 4-1 series victory over Boston.
Saturday’s result was never in doubt as the Islanders struck early and often, scoring in all three periods including an Anthony Beauvillier empty-netter (his eighth of the playoffs) to seal it with 6:18 remaining. Forward Brock Nelson continued his summer breakout with another impressive showing, contributing three points to Saturday’s proceedings including his seventh postseason goal on a smart find from line-mate Josh Bailey.
Back in net after serving as a spectator for Games 5 and 6, Thomas Greiss made his triumphant return with a clean slate Saturday, stonewalling the Flyers for his first career postseason shutout. Greiss barely broke a sweat, only facing 16 shots for the night with seven of those coming in the final period. After starring with 49 saves in Thursday’s overtime thriller, Flyers net-minder Carter Hart wasn’t as sharp Saturday, turning aside 22 of 25 shots in the losing effort.
It’s been a long time coming for the Isles, who haven’t made it this far in the playoffs since 1993, four years before leading scorer Mathew Barzal was even born. As for the Lightning, this will be its fifth trip to the Conference Finals in the last six years.
Of the 24 teams invited to Toronto and Edmonton for the NHL’s “bubble” postseason, just four remain with Tampa Bay and New York tussling for the Eastern Conference crown while Dallas and Vegas slug it out in the West. The Islanders and Lightning will begin their best-of-seven series Monday night with the Stars and Golden Knights getting underway Sunday at 8 PM ET.