The New York Islanders woke up Tuesday feeling pretty good about what’s ahead in the Stanley Cup Second Round after a potential series-changing 4-3 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 at TD Garden on Monday.
Casey Cizikas‘ breakaway goal 14:48 into overtime evened the best-of-7 series with Game 3 at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET: NBCSC, CBC, TVAS). With the Islanders home for the next two games, and a raucous crowd of 12,000 expected at each, the complexion of the series looks much different than it would have if they hadn’t recovered to win after letting a 3-1 lead slip away in the third period Monday.
“It gives you confidence,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday. “You have a lot more confidence when it’s 1-1 than when it’s 0-2. … I liked our response. We went into a tough atmosphere against a very good team and we’re 1-1. So I don’t know if there’s any momentum, but it gives you a little confidence for your group that, ‘You know what? This is going to be a battle. This was fun.'”
The Islanders would’ve faced a difficult challenge had the Bruins completed their comeback by winning in overtime after winning 5-2 in Game 1 on Saturday. But they quickly regrouped following Brad Marchand‘s game-tying power-play goal with 4:54 remaining in third and pushed back.
With the help of a power play, the Islanders outshot the Bruins 7-1 over the rest of the period and 8-1 in the first 10:20 of overtime. The reward came when Cizikas capitalized on a turnover by Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon and beat goalie Tuukka Rask over the left shoulder for the first Stanley Cup Playoff overtime goal of his career.
“We knew we just needed to refocus,” Islanders forward Josh Bailey said. “They took advantage of some opportunities. At that point, you’re in overtime, so anything can happen. You’ve got to refocus. I thought we did that and happy to come away with the win.”
The Islanders are 3-0 in overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season and have a group that has accumulated valuable postseason experience in the past three seasons. Including New York’s run to the Eastern Conference Final last season, it’s won four best-of-7 playoff series, plus the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Florida Panthers last season.
Trotz said he believes that being able to win after losing a two-goal lead Monday is another experience that will help the Islanders going forward.
“I think one of the best things that happened to us last night was the fact that we did give up a 3-1 lead and we did find a way to win,” Trotz said. “Those are things that help you more …. The experience of being up 3-1 and then giving up those two goals and being able to get your game back and finding a way to win that hockey game after all the momentum in that shifted to Boston, that’s a better experience for our hockey team than if we would’ve scored when it was 3-1.”
The Bruins know how wins like the one the Islanders had Monday can turn a series. They were on the verge of trailing the Washington Capitals 2-0 in the first round before pulling out a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 2. Boston went on to win the series in five games.
“I think there is a little momentum. You can’t deny that,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They’ll feel better going home. … To put it in the win column for them and get it done after losing a lead, I think, will give them a little juice and then their home crowd (too), and that’s fine. We get juice from our home crowd. We know the drill.”
The Islanders hope to build off what they did Monday but expect the Bruins to rebound, too. Boston also has an experienced lineup with most of its core remaining from reaching the 2019 Stanley Cup Final before losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.
“That’s a really good team over there. we’re a really good team and it’s going to be a hard-fought series,” Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri said. “So we’re just going to continue to [work hard] and go back home and get ready for Game 3.”