The other side: Could the Islanders really sweep the Penguins? |

The other side: Could the Islanders really sweep the Penguins?

Chris Harlan
New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, left, gets a pass by Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) before left wing Anthony Beauvillier scored a goal for the Islanders during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Friday, April 12, 2019, in Uniondale, N.Y.

Are the Islanders destined for a sweep?

That’s the question crossing minds in New York after Friday night’s 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins gave the Islanders a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The best-of-seven first-round series shifts from Nassau Coliseum to PPG Paints Arena for Game 3 on Sunday.

It’s been more than 30 years since the Islanders were in this position.

“Their 2-0 series lead is their first since 1983, before any player who dressed for them Friday night was born,” wrote Newsday columnist Neil Best.

Best wondered whether this was their last game at Nassau Coliseum this season. The Islanders are using the Long Island arena only for the first round. If they advance, all future rounds will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

But he isn’t predicting a sweep yet.

“To be clear, that is not the way to bet, not against an opponent this formidable,” Best wrote. “But the very fact that such a thing can be pondered illustrates the latest improbable turn in an improbable season.”

The style of play — chippy throughout — at times felt more like a game from the early 1980s, wrote New York Post sportswriter Brett Cyrgalis, with “the little cross-checks, the grabbing of jerseys, the face-washes that define the passion of the postseason.”

The Penguins delivered a more physical game, but that became counterproductive, wrote Newday sportswriter Andrew Gross.

“The Penguins made it clear from the opening faceoff they wanted to match the Islanders’ physical play from Game 1, except it led to three power-play chances for the Islanders in the first period,” wrote Gross.

The Islanders had six power plays in all.


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Mathew Barzal caused a melee and drew a double-minor penalty himself for roughing Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson in the second period. Pettersson took Barzal into the end boards after Anthony Beauvillier’s game-tying goal and Barzal responded with a cross-check.

Later, after watching the replay, Barzal saw the play differently.

“I probably overreacted a little bit,’’ Barzal told Newsday’s Colin Stephenson. “I saw the hit, after. I thought I was in kind of a bad spot, but he let up, and it was actually a safe play by him.’’

The Islanders’ heroes from Game 1 were back for Game 2. Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle each scored for the second game in a row, and Barzal added two more assists.

It was Bailey who scored the overtime winner in Game 1, and Islanders fans are singing his praises — literally.

According to Laura Albanese of Newsday, the fans sing “Hey, Josh Bailey,” to the tune of “Hey Baby.”

This time, Bailey’s third-period goal gave the Islanders room to breathe.

“I wanna know, how you scored that goal.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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