What a way to clinch a series. In front of the best home crowd I’ve seen anywhere in the NHL this year (low bar, I know, but still), the New York Islanders took down the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 in Game 6, igniting their fans with a sudden shift in momentum midway through the second period that the visitors could never recover from. They also worked with the crowd to further damage the psyche of young goaltender Tristan Jarry, who cost the Penguins Game 5 and couldn’t do anything to quiet the jeers of the 9,000 strong at Nassau Coliseum.
The game opened in less than ideal fashion for the Isles, as Jeff Carter—by far the most frustrating presence in this series for the Penguins—slipped a shot past Ilya Sorokin not 90 seconds in. But, in a sign of more good things to come, it did not take long for the Islanders to catch up. On their first shot of the game, Brock Nelson combined with Anthony Beauvillier on a sudden break, and with a back-hander from close range the youngster scored on Jarry for the third time in a week.
Jake Guentzel finally emerged from his slumber to make it 2-1 Pens, but again, the Isles had an answer. This time, still in the first period, Kyle Palmieri cleaned up a terrible, terrible rebound from Jarry and swept it in to equalize.
At Islanders games, after they announce a home goal, everyone does the Daniel Bryan “Yes!” chants, and then, this time of year—as you’ll see in plenty of buildings during the playoffs—they mockingly chant the goalie’s name. In this case, it was “JARRRR-EEEE. JARRRR-EEEEE.” Really rolls off the tongue. But that little routine got thrown into some glorious chaos by what the Islanders did in the second period, when the goals came faster than anyone could announce or celebrate them.
If you’ve never really believed that a hostile crowd could will an opposing player into a meltdown, the Islanders’ flurry against Jarry might change your mind, especially because of the way the attempts got progressively easier to stop. First Nelson scored a tap-in off a cross-ice pass, then Ryan Pulock snuck one in from long distance, then Nelson again went five hole. When the dust cleared, the Islanders were up 5-3 (your final), and Jarry seemed irreparable.
Here’s a quick digression: I grew up in the heat of the Wings-Avs rivalry, and so the chant at the Joe was always “Paaaa-trick! Paaaa-trick!” because you just sound like Wario if you try to do it with Roy’s last name. As a result, I’ve always thought the taunting was more effective if you use a goalie’s first name. But oh well! Who am I to argue with this?
In the last few minutes, the “Jarry” taunts were replaced by “We want Boston!” And the Bruins, indeed, are the Islanders’ reward for keeping the Penguins from winning a playoff series for a third straight year. The hype for this second-round matchup writes itself—a decade-old core fights for another Cup against a scrappy little group that can’t stop exceeding expectations. And, thank goodness, the crowds are going to be loud as hell.