After an OT loss in the first game of the series, the Penguins and their fans were seeing glimpses of 2019 round 1 all over again. Losing game one does not mean game 2 is a must-win, but when you have lost 10 of your last 11 playoff games… it sure feels like it. Game two, much like this repeat of 2019 round 1, had to be a game of redemption.
With capacity being raised to 50% (about 9,000 fans), the Pens started game 2 firing on all cylinders. Just over 3 minutes into the game Bryan Rust took an innocent enough shot from the above the right circle that made it passed an uninterested Varlamov and put the Pens up 1-0 and made the crowd of 9,000 sound like a packed house.
The Pens took control of the 1st period after that, and seems to just be out playing, out hustling, and just looking more sharp then the Islanders. That momentum paid off when my x-factor Jeff Carter put a nice pass from behind the net in the net to extend the lead 2-0.
However, a solid 20 minutes means nothing when 40 more are to be played. The Pens came out in the 2nd period looking rather slow, and the game was sloppy from both teams. At that point, the game turned from a hockey game into the parking lot after school. In all, the Islanders earned 3 roughing calls within 7 a total of 7 minutes, and the Pens had 2. The drama around the last offsetting roughing calls happened after what potentially could have been a scary scene. Tanev lost his balance in a battle for the back between the dots and slid into the net, while Varlmov was able to get out of the way, Tanev ringed his head of the side post and appeared limp for several seconds. While Tanev was laying face down on the ice, Matt Martin appeared to shove down on Tanev’s neck, which is when all hell broke loose. When Tanev was able to get his bearings, he let a few people know that they may not be going for post game drinks….
While Bailey did put the Islanders on the board soon there after, the rest of the game looked like the new kid that got NHL 21 because he wanted to fit in, but had no idea what any of the controls do. The excitement didn’t end there though! With just under 2 minutes left, the Islanders pulled their goalie. While this is nothing special, Bryan Rust found the worst time to try out for the Pirates bullpen and threw the puck out of the zone in a panic attempt to clear.
Thankfully the Pens pulled this game off. Jarry stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced, and while he won his fist playoff game as a starter, he still did not look comfortable. The Pens didn’t look comfortable either, but thankfully the 22 minutes that they played well were enough to even the series.