Brock Nelson’s big second period gets Islanders past Bruins, on to East semifinal

The New York Islanders — and Nassau Coliseum — are not done yet.

Brock Nelson scored a pair of goals off turnovers during a three-goal second period flurry, and the Islanders advanced to the NHL semifinals by beating the visiting Boston Bruins, 6-2, in Game 6 of their East Division second-round series in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 12,000 in Uniondale, N.Y.

“Whenever you have an opportunity to close a team out, you want to bring your best and I thought we’ve been able to do that both times now, against Pittsburgh and now Boston in front of great fans, great atmospheres,” Nelson said. “It just feels right. You need to bring your A-game, and I thought we were able to do that again.”

Brock Nelson keeps it going for Nassau Coliseum

The Islanders, who reached the conference finals for the first time in 27 years last summer, advance to a rematch against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning eliminated the Islanders in six games in the Edmonton bubble in September.

The Islanders last reached the NHL’s final four in consecutive seasons when they made it six straight seasons from 1978-79 through 1983-84, a span in which they won four Stanley Cups.

The series clincher at home was the second in 14 days for the Islanders, who are in their second “last” season at the Coliseum.

islanders bruins playoffs
Jun 9, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; The New York Islanders celebrate after defeating the Boston Bruins in game six of the third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The team vacated the Coliseum following the 2014-15 season for Barclays Center in Brooklyn but returned in December 2018 as UBS Arena was being built on the Nassau/Queens border. New York is scheduled to begin play there in the fall.

Prior to beating the Pittsburgh Penguins to close out Game 6 of a first-round series May 26, the Islanders hadn’t clinched a series at the Coliseum since April 1993.

Travis Zajac scored in the first, Kyle Palmieri capped the second-period outburst with another goal off a turnover, and Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock scored empty-netters in the final minute of the third for the Islanders, the fourth seed in the East. Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves.

Islanders get past Bruins; rematch with Lightning

Brad Marchand scored a pair of power play goals for the third-seeded Bruins, who were eliminated in the second round for the second straight season. Tuukka Rask also recorded 23 saves.

“It’s disappointing,” Marchand said. “We expected a longer run in this room. We felt like we had a group that could go really deep this year. I think that it just came down to a couple of breaks. They capitalized on a few opportunities that they got, and we didn’t on the other end. So I think there’s some games that we really outplayed them and came up short, but that’s playoffs.”

Zajac put back a rebound of Noah Dobson’s shot from the blue line to give the Islanders the lead 8:52 into the first. The Bruins then had back-to-back power plays — during which the crowd chanted “New York Saints” in response to Boston coach Bruce Cassidy’s statement Monday that the Islanders drew fewer penalties because they present themselves as saints — and tied the score on the second one, when Marchand sent a shot beyond Varlamov’s glove with 2:24 left.

Nelson began the second-period surge by poking his stick between Matt Grzelyck’s legs, stealing the puck and beating Rask with a shot off his leg at the 5:20 mark.

Later, Rask’s clearing pass from behind the Bruins’ net clipped off Mike Reilly and went to Josh Bailey, who fed Nelson for a backhanded goal with 7:21 left. Then, Grzelyck’s attempt to clear a rebound was picked off by Palmieri, who jabbed the puck home with 3:53 remaining.

Marchand added another power play goal 5:38 into the third, 18 seconds after Matt Martin was whistled for tripping, but the Bruins didn’t mount another serious threat.

–Field Level Media