Islanders knock out Penguins in Game 6, advance to Second Round

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Islanders’ last ride at Nassau Coliseum will continue on to the Second Round after they eliminated the Penguins in Game 6 with a 5-3 win.

It’s the third straight year the Islanders have advanced out of the First Round and second time in three seasons they’ve knocked out the Penguins.

After the teams exchanged the first five goals, the Islanders broke Game 6 wide open by beating Tristan Jarry three times in a 2:59 span midway through the second period. 

The Penguins took a 3-2 lead early in the middle frame after a Jason Zucker deflection, but minutes later Pittsburgh came undone. Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock scored 13 seconds apart to flip the score in New York’s favor. A little over two minutes later, Nelson would beat Jarry again through a screen in the slot to cushion the lead.

The goals by Nelson and Pulock matched an Islanders franchise playoff record for fastest two goals, which was originally set by Tomas Jonsson and Greg Gilbert during the 1984 Wales Conference Final.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 First Round schedule, TV info]

With Casey DeSmith out injured and Game 6 turning, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan decided to stick with Jarry, who finished the series with a .888 all-situations save percentage. Maxime Lagace served as backup and did not get the call to leave his stool in their tunnel.

That decision was fine for the 9,000 Islanders fans inside the Coliseum. After each goal, JAR-RY! chants were unleashed as what could have been the final game inside the building turned into a celebratory atmosphere as New York closed out the series.

“Whenever we got that goal, they were there to keep us going,” said Nelson afterward. “Once we got the lead, they were loud to the end. It’s awesome having them back. We just wanted to win that one in front of them.”

“We wanted to win for them for a long time,” said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. “It’s nice to have them back in the building.”

Boston awaits

The Islanders will play in the Second Round for the third consecutive postseason. They will meet up with the Bruins, who they compiled a 5-2-1 record against during the regular season. It will be the first playoff meeting between the franchises since 1983.

Islanders fans are ready, that’s for sure. With three minutes to go in Game 6, they broke out a We Want Boston! chant. They’ll get their chance next week with a trip to the Stanley Cup Semifinals on the line.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.