UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brock Nelson scored twice in another big second period by New York, Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots and the Islanders beat the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Game 6 on Wednesday night to advance to the Stanley Cup semifinals for the second straight year.
Kyle Palmieri, Trais Zajac, Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock also scored to help the Islanders set up a rematch with the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
Brad Marchand scored twice for Boston, and Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.
With the Bruins on the power play, Marchand got the puck in front of the net and put a backhander past Varlamov from the right side at 5:38 of the third to cut Boston’s deficit to 4-2. It was Marchand’s fifth of the series and eighth of the postseason.
The Islanders’ stifling defense limited the Bruins to just five shots on goal in the third. With the minutes winding down on Boston’s season, New York hemmed the Bruins in their end of the ice, preventing them from pulling Rask for an extra skater until 1:25 left.
Clutterbuck scored an empty-netter with 59 seconds left to seal it, and Pulock added another 11 seconds later.
The score was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, but the Islanders took control with another big second period. After outscoring the Bruins 8-3 in the middle periods of the first five games, New York had three more in the second — for the third time in the series.
The Islanders went on their first power play of the game 2:18 into the second period when Karson Kuhlman was caught for tripping Mathew Barzal. The Islanders managed one shot on goal during the advantage. Shortly after the power play expired, Varlamov had kick save on Patrice Bergeron from the right side at 4:36.
Nelson stole the puck from Matt Grzelcyk took off on breakaway and beat Rask into the top right corner at 5:20 to put New York up 2-1.
Varlamov made successive saves on tries by Chris Wagner and Charlie Coyle with 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the middle period to preserve the Islanders’ lead and draw chants of “Var-ly! Var-ly!” from the home crowd.
Josh Bailey stole an outlet pass from Rask and fed Nelson streaking to net, and Nelson beat the goalie from the right side with 7:23 left in the second for his second of the night at sixth of the playoffs.
With the Bruins trailing 3-1 in the elimination game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy broke up his Perfection Line of David Pastrnak-Marchand-Bergeron.
However, the Islanders stretched the lead to 4-1 as Adam Pelech sent a shot from the left point that was stopped by Rask. However, Palmieri swooped in, took the rebound and put it in from the right side for his seventh of the postseason.
With the Nassau Coliseum crowd roaring from before the puck drop, the game got off to a fast-paced start with plenty of hard hits on both sides.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard first. After a faceoff in the offensive zone, Noah Dobson fired a shot from the right point that was stopped by Rask. However, the rebound kicked out in front and Zajac grabbed it and put it in at 8:52 for his first goal this postseason.
Boston went on the power play with 5:47 left in the first when Anthony Beauvillier was whistled for tripping Charlie McAvoy. Casey Cizikas was called for a tripping penalty as well with 4 minutes remaining, putting the Bruins on a 5-on-3 for 14 seconds.
It drew chants of “New York Saints! New York Saints!” from the crowd, a reference to what Cassidy called the Islanders when complaining about the imbalance in penalties after Game 4.
The Islanders killed off the first penalty, but Marchand tied the score with 2:24 remaining as he got a cross-ice pass from Pastrnak in the right circle and quickly bet Varlamov high on the glove side.
The Islanders have been opportunistic with the man advantage in the playoffs, converting on 28% of their chances after going 0 for 1 in Game 6. During the season, New York was 20th in the league at 18.8%.
The Bruins scored in 21.9% of their chances during the season, and have upped that to 36.4% during the playoffs. after a 2-for-3 effort. They finished 7 for 14 during this series.
The Bruins were without center Curtis Lazar and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. Lazar was injured in the second period of Game 5 in a collision with the Islanders’ Adam Pelech. Jake DeBrush took Larzar’s place in the lineup. Carlo has been out since a hit from Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3. Miller, injured in the first round against Washington, wasn’t ready to return.