Goalie Semyon Varlamov was solid in making 24 saves. But the Islanders’ best stop in Friday’s 5-1 Game 4 win over the Panthers to clinch their best-of-five qualifying series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto came from defenseman Ryan Pulock.
“It was one of those defining moments,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.
Pulock stretched out his stick to stop Panthers top-line center Aleksander Barkov from converting with a look at an open net from the right post at 8:29 of the second period. The Islanders had just gone up 3-1 on Brock Nelson’s power-play goal 28 seconds earlier.
“That was a key moment in the game,” Islanders No. 1 center Mathew Barzal said. “It tilted the ice.”
“We had a good little battle going,” Pulock said. “He was able to spin off of me. I ended up on the wrong side. He had a wide-open net. It was a desperation play. It ended up a pretty big play and, after that, we started to take it over.”
Pulock had a team-high six of the Islanders’ 31 blocked shots in 19:04 of ice time and had a secondary assist on Anthony Beauvillier’s second goal to finish with a goal and three assists in the series.
The lone lineup change Trotz made for Game 4 was inserting agitating right wing Leo Komarov for the first time in the series. Komarov took Tom Kuhnhackl’s spot on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s third line with Derick Brassard.
Komarov missed almost all of Training Camp 2.0 after suffering a facial injury during the voluntary, small-group workouts that began on June 8, and wore a full birdcage mask for Game 4.
He logged 12:44 with an assist and 2:02 of shorthanded time as the Islanders killed off four of the Panthers’ five power plays after Florida went 2-for-5 on the man advantage in its 3-2 win in Wednesday’s Game 3.
“When we were starting this process, we figured Leo would be in the lineup but then he got injured in Phase 2,” Trotz said. “Florida’s power play is tremendous. We felt that Leo was a veteran guy and maybe a heavier guy than Tommy.”
Cost of winning
The Islanders’ win means their first-round pick in this year’s draft will officially be sent to the Senators as part of their trade deadline deal for Pageau. The pick was top-three protected and the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying series will participate in the second phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday night to determine the No. 1 overall selection.
Notes & quotes
Beauvillier and Pageau tied for the team-high with three goals apiece in the series…Defenseman Devon Toews and Josh Bailey shared the team lead with four assists…Beauvillier and Toews were the only players to have at least one point in each of the four games…As it did on the eve of this series, the Empire State Building shone with orange and blue lights on Friday night to honor the Islanders.