The Vegas Golden Knights had Game 3 in their hands until one bad mistake from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury opened the door for the Montreal Canadiens to win in overtime. As their goalie moves past that gaffe, the Knights are wondering how to get pucks past the opposing goalie to avoid a huge deficit in their semifinal series.
Check out the ESPN NHL Playoffs Daily to catch up every day of the postseason until the Stanley Cup is handed out in July.
The Canadiens remain in the hands of assistant coach Luke Richardson, as head coach Dominique Ducharme will need to isolate for 14 days after testing positive for COVID on Friday. The coach is different, but the playbook’s the same: Shutting down the opponents’ star players and letting Carey Price do the rest.
Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson are all looking for their first goals in the series — six of the Knights’ eight goals have been scored by defensemen. Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury tried his best to move on after his puck-handling blunder allowed the Canadiens to tie Game 3 before winning in overtime. “Obviously, I wish things were different. But it is what it is, and got to put it behind and get ready for our next game,” said Fleury, who has played to a sub-replacement level in his last two games.
About last night
The Islanders built a 3-0 lead in Game 4 with a dominating second period, on goals by Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal and Matt Martin. “Sometimes you lay an egg, and we laid one in the second period. You can’t play 40 [minutes], you’ve gotta play 60,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. But Tampa Bay showed up for the final 20 minutes, roaring back to life on goals by Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson and nearly tying the game on a last-second spin-o-rama shot from Ryan McDonagh that Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock saved on the goal line.
“I think everyone’s breath just got taken away when that puck was coming. I thought that was going in. Just a miraculous play by [Pulock]. I’m not going to be forgetting that one,” said Barzal after the win. Full recap
Three stars of the night
Ryan Pulock gets in front of the goal and saves the final shot from the Lightening as the Islanders prevail 3-2 in Game 4.
It’s not often the first star is a skater who didn’t have a point in the game, but it’s also not often you witness a defensive play like the one Pulock made to preserve the win for the Islanders. McDonagh got the puck with four seconds on the clock. Goalie Semyon Varlamov came far out from his crease to defend the shot. With Brock Nelson sliding in front of him, McDonagh pulled off a spin-o-rama and released a backhand shot. Varlamov had left the net open, but Pulock smartly dove to his right as he saw McDonagh make his move. With 1.9 seconds left in regulation, Pulock blocked the shot on the goal line. “It feels good to score goals, but when you can save the game like that, it’s a good feeling,” he said.
Martin had promised his mother than he’d get her a goal in Game 3, which was her birthday, and he didn’t. “I was able to get her an assist, and she was happy with that,” he said. He scored a goal in Game 4, and the celebration had a family feel: He was missing his brother-in-law Gunnar Esiason’s wedding, but Sydney Martin had him there in spirit:
— Sydney Esiason Martin (@sydneyemartin) June 20, 2021
Point extended his playoff goal streak to seven games, and has Reggie Leach’s NHL record of 10 straight games with a goal in the same playoff year (1976, for Leach) within reach.
Quote of the day
“It’s the playoffs. Nothing should surprise anybody really. That’s the great thing about our game. We can bring you out of your seats, right to the last minute.”
— Islanders coach Barry Trotz on Pulock’s game-saving block.
Non-Pulock save of the day
— BobbyLotsOfNumbers (@TheReplayGuy) June 20, 2021
Trotz rightfully called out this save by Varlamov (28 saves) on a great look by Nikita Kucherov that kept the score 3-2 in the third period, well before Pulock’s heroics.
Fortuitous bounce of the day
Mathew Barzal. The easiest goal of his career. pic.twitter.com/JmKRTlx5yb
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 20, 2021
Drawn penalty of the day
— 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚒 𝙵𝚊𝚒𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚘 (@faiello_mari) June 20, 2021
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman broke his stick against the glass after this tripping penalty with 1:13 left in regulation and his team trying to tie the game. But Clutterbuck drew the call, and it was a huge one.
Challenge of the day
The Lightning challenged the Islanders’ third goal for an offside on a play where the Islanders were very much onside, resulting in a good goal and a delay-of-game penalty for Tampa. The Lightning bench assumed they weren’t onside, based on the available evidence.
“There were a couple of problems. First of all, the went out on the bench, so we have zero chance for us to look at it. Second of all, you’re getting your feeds from the network. They’re in the entertainment business. They’re not showing all the angles that need to be shown. So we’re now relying on limited intel,” said Cooper. “If you really look at the play, your gut and everything else is telling you that it’s offside. Once the challenge is made, way after the fact, we get back to the room and they finally show an angle at the end — that took them forever to show. From the angles we had on the bench, everything looked offside. So that’s the unfortunate part. We didn’t get all the angles. That can get a little bit frustrating. We had to go a little bit on gut on something that should never be a gut call.”