In the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers, the Islanders lost game three only to bounce back and win game four to wrap up the series three games to one. Then, in the opening round of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals, the Islanders jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, lost game four, and then won game five to finish off the series winning four games to one.
And now here in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Islanders won game one, lost game two in overtime, and rebounded with a 3-1 victory in game three on Saturday night in Toronto.
In each round, the Islanders have suffered a bit of adversity but they’ve been able to bounce back on each occasion and now they have the momentum with a 2-1 series lead heading into game four on Sunday night at 8pm at Scotiabank Arena.
“In the post-season you have to be able to bounce back,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee who scored a power play goal in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal advantage. “You have that opportunity to regroup. You have to understand the position that you’re in in the series and you expect long series. You can’t dwell on the past because another game is coming like for us, we’re already playing (Sunday) so we gotta start thinking about that. After a loss, you have to be the team that wants it more the next night.”
And speaking of adversity, the Islanders have handled the off-ice distractions pretty well too. From getting back on the ice in small groups during the coronavirus pandemic, to training camp 2.0, to arriving in the bubble, and dealing with the social issues that led to the NHL postponing games on Thursday and Friday, the Islanders have shown a lot of poise.
“You talk about getting everything thrown at you,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “Everything from this pandemic, the restart, the phase one, the phase two, the phase three, the bubble, the social issues, the days off, the changes of schedule…our group, coming in, understood it would be different and whatever is thrown at us, we won’t waver.”
When it comes to individual players bouncing back, you have to start with goalie Semyon Varlamov. He was pulled in the first period of game two after giving up three goals, but came back strong in game three to make 26 saves.
“It was an important game for our team and for me especially,” said Varlamov. “I didn’t play well (in game two). I learned from the mistakes, had a good practice (on Friday) and pushed myself in the practice to make sure I felt good (in game three).”
Islanders/Flyers Series Schedule:
Game 1: Monday August 24th…Islanders 4 Flyers 0 (Islanders lead 1-0)
Game 2: Wednesday August 26th…Flyers 4 Islanders 3 F/OT (Series Tied 1-1)
Game 3: Saturday August 29th…Islanders 3 Flyers 1 (Islanders lead 2-1)
Game 4: Sunday August 30th…Flyers vs Islanders…8pm
Game 5: Tuesday September 1st…Islanders vs Flyers…7pm…
Game 6: Thursday September 3rd…Flyers vs Islanders…TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Saturday September 5th…Islanders vs Flyers…TBD (if necessary)
And then there’s forward Derick Brassard who made his return after he was a healthy scratch for game five against the Capitals and the first two games against the Flyers. All he did was set up Leo Komarov for what turned out to be the game-winning goal with six seconds left in the second period to snap a 1-1 tie.
“The last couple of days were pretty tough for me,” said Brassard. “Nobody wants to miss games or be a healthy scratch but he reality of it is that we have a lot of guys watching in the stands that can play right now. It was just good to be out there and help the team. We’re just trying to be good on the forecheck. We’re trying to create turnovers out there and trying to put pressure on their (defense). We started doing that in the second period and we got rewarded for it.”
And now the Islanders have a chance to put themselves on the precipice of a trip to Edmonton and the Eastern Conference Final with a win in game four on Sunday night. Playing back to back in the playoffs is not the normal, but this has been far from a normal year. The Islanders actually did very well in back to back situations during the regular season before play was suspended due to the pandemic. The Islanders had eight sets of back to back games going 5-3-0 in the front ends and a marvelous record of 6-1-1 in the back ends.
The Islanders lost game three against the Panthers in the back end of back to backs, but the situation is not something that phases the Isles heading into Sunday.
“Not really,” said Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck. “If you look at the course of a regular season back to backs are a pretty popular thing. They happen all of the time. We’re very familiar with it, we know how to handle it and it’s really not that big a deal.”
Dealing with adversity and bounce back ability.
The Islanders have done a good job so far in the post-season checking both of those boxes and now they have the upper hand in the series against the Flyers heading into game four Sunday night.