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The New York Islanders got another big second stint, running past the Boston Bruins to return to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
Brock Nelson scored two goals in New York’s three-goal runner-up, Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots and the Islanders defeated the Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night in front of a loud home crowd at the Nassau Coliseum.
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“It was great,” said Nelson. “The place rocked tonight. The fans gave us energy. The team played great. One of those nights that (coach) Barry (Defiance) spoke to after the game, you will always remember moments like this. That was a great game, “a great team effort from everyone.”
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock also met to help the Islanders prepare for a rematch against defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
“You need everyone to beat a team like this,” Bailey said. “From Varly on, I thought everyone in the line-up did their part and played the way we needed to get the win. I’m sure I’m happy to continue.”
The Lightning defeated the Islanders in six games at the Edmonton Bubble last year.
“We feel like we have some unfinished business,” said Bailey. “We’re going to enjoy tonight and get ready.”
Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves. The Bruins, who reached the Stanley Cup final two years ago, were eliminated in the second round for the second time in a row.
“They are a good defensive team,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “They clearly manage pucks better than we do. We don’t get the free chances they mishandle on pucks. They play a good game that way, they don’t beat themselves.”
With the Bruins in power play, Marchand brought the puck in front of the net and shot a backhand from the right past Varlamov at 5:38 of the third to reduce Boston to 4-2. It was Marchands fifth in the series and eighth in the postseason.
The stifling defense of the Islanders limited the Bruins in the third to only five shots on goal. As the minutes of the Boston season ran out, New York held the Bruins at the end of the ice, preventing them from dragging Rask for an additional skater until 1:25 p.m.
Clutterbuck scored 59 seconds more to seal it, and Pulock added another 11 seconds later.
After beating the Bruins 8-3 in the middle of the first five games, New York had three more in the second game – the third time in the series.
Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk. started in the breakaway group and beat Rask in the top right corner at 5:20 to give New York a 2-1 lead.
Bailey stole an outlet pass from Rask and streaked Nelson to the net, and Nelson beat the goalkeeper from the right 7:23 left in the second for his second of the night and sixth of the playoffs.
Since the Bruins were 3-1 behind in the elimination game, Cassidy broke his perfection line from David Pastrnak-Marchand-Bergeron.
However, the Islanders extended the lead to 4-1 when Adam Pelech dispatched a shot from the left which was stopped by Rask. However, Palmieri stormed in, took the rebound and used it for his seventh of the postseason from the right.
“They found ways to win, so give them credit,” said Cassidy. “They were a lot more opportunistic than us.”
The Islanders came on the scoreboard first. After a faceoff in the offensive zone, Noah Dobson fired a shot from the right spot, which was stopped by Rask. However, the rebound kicked out in front and Zajac grabbed it and set it up at 8:52 a.m. for his first goal of the postseason.
Boston went into power play with 5:47 minutes in the first game when Anthony Beauvillier was kicked off for tripping Charlie McAvoy. Casey Cizikas was also called on a trip penalty 4 minutes before the end, which put the Bruins on a 5-on-3 for 14 seconds.
It drew chants of “New York Saints! New York Saints!” from the crowd, a reference to what Cassidy was calling the Islanders when complaining about the imbalance in penalties after Game 4.
“We hear some of the chants,” said Bailey. “There was an incredible atmosphere out there tonight. I think we really drank from it.”
Marchand leveled with 2:24 remaining when he got a cross-ice pass from Pastrnak in the right circle and quickly put Varlamov on the glove side.
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The Bruins had to do without center Curtis Lazar and defenders Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. Lazar was injured by the Islanders in a collision with Adam Pelech in the second part of Game 5. Jake DeBrush took Larzar’s place on the line-up. Carlo has been out since a goal from Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3. Miller, who was injured in the first round against Washington, wasn’t ready to return.