UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — For the second time in three years, the New York Islanders did a masterful job shutting down Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, got some timely goals, and are now headed to the second round of the playoffs.
Brock Nelson scored twice in New York’s three-goal second period and the Islanders rallied to beat Pittsburgh 5-3 in Game 6 on Wednesday night, setting up a matchup with Boston in the next round.
The second-round schedule has not been announced.
“I thought we showed a lot of resiliency,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I liked our resiliency, I liked our physicality, I liked our detail. … Lots of good things. I liked the surge that we had with three goals in about three minutes there (in the second period). And then we battled.”
After winning one postseason series in a 25-year stretch — in 2016 — the Islanders have advanced past the first round for the third straight year under Trotz.
“This is a special place, a special group,” Nelson said. “Everybody wants to go out there and win and compete for a Stanley Cup and raise it, so to be seeing some progress and getting close, it’s awesome. It’s fun.”
Anthony Beauvillier had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Pulock also scored for the Islanders. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
Ilya Sorokin followed up a 48-save performance in Game 5 with 34 saves in the clincher to move to 4-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average in the series. He had seven saves in the first period, 15 in the second, and 12 in the third to finish with 150 in his four starts. Sorokin steadied the Islanders after Semyon Varlamov, who was stellar during the season, lost Games 2 and 3.
“It takes everyone in these series but obviously Ilya came up big, especially that last game in Pittsburgh,” Pulock said. “He was unbelievable. That’s what you need to win and we got it in both guys and yeah, it was great.”
Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel also scored for Pittsburgh. Tristan Jarry made 19 saves.
Crosby was limited to one goal and one assist in the series, and Malkin — who missed the first two games with an undisclosed injury — had a goal and four assists in four games. Guentzel, who had 23 goals and 34 assists during the season, had just a goal and an assist in the six games.
Zucker put the Penguins ahead 3-2 with their third lead of the game as he tipped a point shot by Evgeni Malkin past Sorokin at 1:53 of the second period.
The Islanders then took the lead with two goals 13 seconds apart. They tied it at 8:35 as Beauvillier brought the puck up the ice, pass to Josh Bailey on the right side. Bailey sent a cross-ice laser pass to Nelson on the left side and he quickly beat Jarry.
Off a faceoff in the right circle in the offensive zone, Pageau sent the puck back to Pulock at the right point and he fired a slap shot through traffic past Jarry to give New York its first lead of the night.
The Islanders made it 5-3 less than 3 minutes later as Beauvillier brought the puck up the middle, dropped a pass back to Nelson, who fired it past Jarry for his second of the night with 8:26 left in the middle period to draw a thunderous roar from the crowd.
“I think we did a good job by just sticking with our game plan and obviously it paid off in the second period,” said Beauvillier, who had three goals and an assist in the series. “We were on top of our game tonight. It was a typical Islander win.”
The Penguins got on the scoreboard 1:27 into the game when Carter got a pass from Kasperi Kapanen and beat Sorokin through the five-hole for his fourth of the series.
Beauvillier, who was beaten up the ice by Carter on his goal, tied it for New York at 5:16 as he got ahead of Crosby, got a pass from Nelson, and put a backhander up over Jarry on the glove side.
Pittsburgh regained the lead on a power play as Guentzel fired a shot that deflected off Islanders defenseman Pulock and past Sorokin with 8:48 remaining in the first.
The Islanders tied it again 1:13 later as Palmieri knocked in the rebound of a shot by Pageau.
During the regular season, the Islanders won five out of eight against the Bruins, with Boston winning the last three meetings over the final month of the season.
The capacity at Nassau Coliseum was expanded to 9,000. It had been 1,700 during the season after fans were permitted to attend, and was increased to 6,800 for Games 3 and 4 of the series.
“It was incredible,” Pulock said. “They’ve come out this whole series. They came out when they could in the regular season and they brought it tonight and that was the extra boost we needed.”