The New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in the East Division Final to send the series headed back to Boston for Game 5 Monday tied at two.
GOLD STAR: Mathew Barzal. The Islanders center that way too many Boston Bruins fans and media tend to point out constantly when recalling the botched Bruins’ 2015 NHL Entry Draft, let frustration dominate his play early in this game. With just one goal in nine 2021 Stanley Cup playoff games coming into Game 4, Barzal showed he was feeling the pressure in Game 4. He took offense to the numerous clean hits from the Bruins as they targeted him and took an undisciplined cross-checking penalty on Bruins forward Curtis Lazar 9:23 into the first period after Boston Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi drilled him with a clean hit. The Islanders killed that penalty off and from that point on, Barzal was a man on a mission.
The player that the Islanders drafted 16th overall, right after the Bruins took Jakub Zboril (13th), Jake DeBrusk (14th), and Zach Senyshyn (15th), took that frustration and it turned it into motivation. He assisted on Kyle Palmieri’s game-tying goal 6:38 into the second period and then scored the eventual game-winner 13:03 into the final frame.
BLACK EYE: Battered Boston Bruins’ Blue Line. The rotating door that is the 2021 Boston Bruins blue line welcomed Jarred Tinordi back into the lineup for Game 4 after defenseman Brandon Carlo was ruled out. That was thanks to a hard hit on Carlo from Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3 that forced Carlo out early in the third period. Tinordi was solid with two shots and two hits, as well as dropping the gloves with Islanders tough guy Matt Martin, but the battered Bruins’ blue line was once again exposed at times, making some unforced turnovers and being suspect at best traveling through the neutral zone. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hinted that regardless of Carlo’s status for Game 5, there could be some more changes coming to the defensive corps.
“We’ll have to look at it, obviously at home, you get last change. …what’s the best fit?” Cassidy said in his postgame Zoom call with the media. “At the end of the day, I thought Tinordi did his job; he played hard, gave us some bite, moved some pucks. I just think we had some unforced errors. Our D gave up some great chances, the one to [Anthony] Beauvillier, another one we might; ve blocked, from two guys, that over the puck well so can’t put on the young guys in that one. So, we were out of sync a little in that regard.”
TURNING POINT: Islanders killing off failed goal challenge. After having a goal challenge on Boston Bruins forward David Krejci’s powerplay goal at 3:57 of the second period denied, the Islanders faced the daunting task of killing off another Bruins powerplay or falling behind 2-0. Instead, they held the Bruins to just two shots on that man advantage and regained momentum in the game and 41 seconds after the Isles killed the Bruins powerplay, Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri tied the game at one. From that point on, the Islanders had a renewed intensity and purpose to their game.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 6, 2021
HONORABLE MENTION: The physical play of this series from both teams. Yours truly predicted a seven-game series and it appears we may just be headed for that thanks to what has been an entertaining and physical series by both the New York Islander and the Boston Bruins. Coming into this game, the two teams had combined for 282 hits, and that physicality boiled over into Game 4 as there were two fighting majors in the first period. Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall fought Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield 7:28 into the opening frame and Jarred Tinordi did the tango with Matt Martin at 9:23. The two teams combined for 30 penalty minutes and 57 hits in another heavyweight battle.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3,711. The number of days since Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall’s last fight.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Obviously I wasn’t too happy about it. He went down pretty easily.” – Krejci on Barzal’s three cross-checks on him before Krejci speared Hall in the family jewels.