The Pittsburgh Penguins have a big offseason coming up. They had their chances over the six games, but they could not capitalize and the New York Islanders beat them in six games. In Game 6, the Islanders exploded to beat the Penguins 5-3. Game 6 encapsulated what went right for the Islanders and what went wrong for the Penguins.
Early Scoring Explosion
Jeff Carter got the scoring going, scoring on a great pass from Kasperi Kapanen to beat Ilya Sorokin five-hole. Four minutes later, the Penguins turned the puck over and Anthony Beauvillier capitalized. Beauvillier went on a two-on-one with Brock Nelson who fed him a perfect pass past Tristan Jarry. After a penalty on the Islanders, Jake Guentzel finally got his first goal of the 2021 Playoffs. Guentzel caught the slot pass from Kris Letang and finished off a defender to trickle past Sorokin. Only one minute later, Jarry gave a terrible rebound right to Kyle Palmieri who finished into the open net. At the end of the first, four goals were scored. Before this game, there were only seven first-period goals in the series. Two minutes into the second, Jason Zucker took the lead. Zucker tipped a pass from Cody Ceci and it slid inside the goal. Then, the Penguins fell apart.
The Wheels Fall Off
Jarry had been up and down throughout this series, going back and forth between great games and bad games. In Game 6, he fell apart. Brock Nelson scored on a great pass from Josh Bailey to an open net. 13 seconds later, Ryan Pulock scored from the blueline. Two minutes later, Nelson scored again on an easy shot that trickled past Jarry. Within three minutes the Islanders scored three goals. Jarry had two straight bad games, also causing the double Overtime loss in Game 5, passing the puck right to Bailey who ended the game. Any time a goalie lets in five goals, the team will be hard-pressed to overcome that. The third period was uneventful, with the Islanders’ audience cheering for the inevitable series victory.
What’s Next for the Penguins?
Mike Sullivan’s decision to stay with Jarry after the three goals in three minutes is questionable. Giving up three goals in three minutes should pull even the best goalie. Sullivan is not known to change his lineups, however, so it is not surprising that he did not bring out Maxime Lagace. Sullivan did not change the top line until an injury forced his hand, when the Penguins were already out of the game. The loss of Casey DeSmith for the entire playoffs hurt the Penguins. DeSmith was a strong backup and even a potential starter when Jarry faltered.
What’s Next for the Islanders?
The No. 4 seed Islanders will face off against the No. 3 seed Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Islanders went 3-5 against the Bruins in the regular season. The Bruins breezed through their series with the Washington Capitals, beating the Capitals in five games. Right-wing David Pasternak had six points in the five games, while Patrice Bergeron led the team with three goals. Goalie Tuuka Rask posted a .941 save percentage, allowing only 10 goals in five games. J.G Pageau led the Islanders with six points in six games. Nelson and Bailey led the Islanders with three goals each. Sorokin starred in the series, winning every game he played and allowing only nine goals in six games, and posting a .943 save percentage. Game 1 will most likely begin on Saturday, but the games are still to be determined.