The New York Islanders have done the unthinkable.
A 3-1 come-from-behind victory on Tuesday night that once again featured goals from Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson, along with a stout defense, clinched a 4-0 series sweep over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
They’re now off to the second round of the playoffs to meet the winner of the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes tilt.
It’s the first time the Islanders have swept a playoff series since defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final and just the organization’s third postseason series victory since 1993.
The resiliency and resolve of Barry Trotz’s team was on full display in their clinching game at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night as they overcame an early deficit for the third-straight game.
Jake Guentzel’s opener 35 seconds into the game suggested that the Penguins would fly to a victory in order to keep their season alive.
But Penguins can’t fly, and the Islanders are a resilient bunch as they recreated Game 3 almost identically.
Eberle provided an answer just 1:34 later to take the wind out of PPG Paints Arena, roofing a wrister from close range over Murray’s shoulder to finish off a 2-on-1 chance with Mathew Barzal.
It was his fourth goal in as many games in the postseason, a remarkable contrast from his first 13 career playoff games with the Edmonton Oilers where he didn’t record a single tally.
The winger became just the third player in the last seven years to score in each of his team’s first four postseason games, joining the Flames’ Sean Monahan in 2012 and former Sharks great Patrick Marleau in 2013.
Just like Sunday’s victory, Nelson followed up Eberle’s equalizer and gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead with 1:54 remaining in the first period, one-timing a brilliant pass from behind the net by Josh Bailey past the unsuspecting Murray.
In a last-ditch effort, the Penguins threw everything they had at the Islanders’ frustrating defense and came close on multiple occasions.
Sidney Crosby hit the post with a wide-open net in the second period before Scott Mayfield denied Phil Kessel an easy tap-in during the third when goalie Robin Lehner was out of position.
Lehner once again was a stalwart in goal, stopping 32 of 33 shots thrown his way, finishing the series with a stellar .955 save percentage.
Bailey picked up his second point of the night with just 38 seconds left to clinch the game and the series for the Islanders.
The trio of Bailey, Eberle, and Nelson combined to record 10 of the Islanders’ 14 goals in the series, some much-needed contributions for a team whose offense was suspect heading into the postseason.
In the win, the Islanders saw defenseman Johnny Boychuk and fourth-line winger Cal Clutterbuck leave the game during the second period. Neither returned to the game.
Luckily for Trotz and Co., New York will have over a week off before Round 2 starts up, offering plenty of time for both important cogs of the Islanders machine to heal up.