The opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins had it all.
It went to overtime, featured three ties, nine penalties -- including a boarding call on the Islanders' Anders Lee that resulted in a potential injury for Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson -- and a whole bunch of after-the-whistle pushing and shoving. Meanwhile, the teams traded seven goals, the last of which might remain a viral sensation until the Stanley Cup is hoisted in June.
Anyone ready for a few more of these?
"If every game's like that, it's going to be a roller coaster for sure," Islanders center Mathew Barzal said late Wednesday night, after his highlight-reel sequence deep in the Penguins' zone led to Josh Bailey's goal 4:39 into overtime and a 4-3 win for New York.
The Islanders and Penguins will look to match Game 1's intensity and entertainment on Friday night, when the Metropolitan Division rivals meet in Game 2 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The Islanders held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 on Wednesday, but the Penguins equalized each time. Justin Schultz delivered the third, an extra-attacker goal with 1:29 left to force overtime. Bailey nearly won the game in the final 10 seconds of regulation, when his shot rang off the left post.
Barzal almost won the game himself in overtime when he shuffled the puck and deked Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin in front of the crease. With Dumoulin sprawled out, Barzal waited before putting a backhander over goaltender Matt Murray's pad, only to hit the left post, but Bailey was positioned to put back the rebound.
"That's playoff hockey, that was completely different than a regular-season game," Barzal said following his postseason debut. "You've got to be dialed in at all times. We were tonight, everyone was, and I'm sure they were, too. It was a good battle by both teams." >> Read more
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