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Islanders one step away from Stanley Cup final after routing Bruins

The New York Saints — ahem, Islanders — are marching on to the Stanley Cup semifinals.

Although, the Islanders may be considering a rebrand after the unruly crowd of 12,000 at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night embraced the snide rename from Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. Right up until the final buzzer, rambunctious fans, many who wore halos, chanted their new rallying cry, which Cassidy kindly provided them after the Bruins loss in Game 5, as the Islanders powered their way to a 6-2 win over Boston to advance.

With the victory, the Islanders extended their streak to an absurd 8-0 at home when competing in series-clinching Game 6’s and earned themselves another crack at the Lightning, who ended their season in the bubble playoffs last season.

The semifinal series is expected to begin this weekend in Tampa Bay.

“We’re just taking a lot of pride in what we do to get back to the spot we were in last year with some unfinished business,” Anthony Beauvillier said after the win. “It’s a great opportunity and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Islanders celebrate after their series-clinching 6-2 Game 6 win over the Bruins.
The Islanders celebrate after their series-clinching 6-2 Game 6 win over the Bruins.
Corey Sipkin

When Barry Trotz walked into the locker room, he told his team that this would be a special moment they’d always remember. Between the vivacious atmosphere, their ferocious performance on the ice and the satisfaction of knowing they’ve matched their playoff run from last season, the coach was certainly right.

“We’ve got a group of guys that have been together for quite a while,” said Brock Nelson, who scored twice in the second period. “We’ve added some key pieces and you get in these high-intensity games and guys just keep showing up for one another. It just builds a bond.”

The Bruins unraveled in the middle frame, which began in a 1-1 tie. Whether it was the relentlessness of the crowd, who began taunting Boston goalie Tuukka Rask the moment he stepped onto the ice, or the endless hits the Islanders landed beginning to take their toll, Boston was suddenly playing hesitant — and the Islanders ambushed.

Islanders fans cheer during Game 6.
Islanders fans cheer during Game 6.
Getty Images

Nelson — or Big Game Brock as we like to say — gave the Islanders the lead on a breakaway he created himself after pickpocketing Bruins defenseman Matt Gryzelcyk. He made it a 3-1 game after Boston’s turnover led to Josh Bailey centering the puck to Nelson for a tucked backhander at 12:39.

The Bruins couldn’t get out of their zone. And while the Islanders were finding ways to put the puck on net, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy was too busy pinning Travis Zajac, whose second goal as an Islander in the first opened up the scoring, to the ice when Kyle Palmieri netted his seventh goal of the playoffs at 16:07 to take a 4-1 lead.

Brad Marchand had two power-play goals, including one just over five minutes into the third period to make it a two-goal game. But the Islanders hung on until Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock each potted empty-net goals to seal the deal.

There soon will be four teams left in the NHL playoffs. The Islanders are the champions of the East. This could become more than just one special moment to remember.

“It’s going to be no easy task, I think Tampa has a great team, defending Cup champs,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be tough but we believe in ourselves and we know we’re gonna need our best to find a way to take them down.”

nypost.com

New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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