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Game 4 Recap: Isles Complete First Round Sweep Over Pens

Islanders win Game 4 3-1, complete first series sweep since 1983

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

How sweep it is. 

The New York Islanders completed their four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins with 3-1 win at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night, advancing to the second round for the first time since 2016. 

"We didn't come in and think we were going to win it in four, but we felt confident coming in and playing against these guys," said Robin Lehner who made 32 saves in the win. "That it became a sweep it's nice, but we won one in OT and all games were close. It was those small plays, blocked shots, right decisions, a save here or there, all these things add up and they went in our favor."

The Islanders maintained the sweep - the franchise's first since the 1983 Stanley Cup Final - wasn't indicative of how close the Isles-Pens series was. Tuesday's game was no exception, as the Isles knew heading in that the elimination game would bring out the most desperation in the cornered Penguins.  

 Video: NYI@PIT, Gm4: Islanders, Penguins shake hands

Pittsburgh seemingly got off to the start they wanted, as Jake Guentzel scored 35 seconds into the game, busting his and Sidney Crosby's series-long point drought. But that's where the maturity and composure of the Isles shone through. 

Just as they'd done in Games 2 and 3, the Isles answered the Penguins early goal with a quick response of their own. Jordan Eberle, wielding the hottest stick of any Islander, scored his fourth goal in as many games, 1:34 later to tie the score 1-1, burying a two-on-one feed from Mathew Barzal. 

Throughout the series, the Isles had only trailed for a grand total of 4:51. According to Eric Hornick, the Penguins had an empty-net for longer (5:55). 

Video: NYI@PIT, Gm4: Eberle beats Murray on odd-man rush

"It got a little hairy at times and our bench didn't go emotionally off the rails," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We stayed pretty composed and I liked that. We focused in on the right things and guys had moments when they almost came off the rails if you will and everyone around them pulled them back in. To me, that's how we will have success." 

Even the tie game didn't last till the intermission. Brock Nelson, the second-hottest Islander, put the Isles ahead 2-1 with his third of the playoffs, knocking in Josh Bailey's centering feed at 18:06. The play was initially set up by a Tom Kuhnhackl forecheck as the former Penguin continued his role as thorn in the side of his former team.

From there, the Isles had to ward off the Penguins pushes, but over the final 40 minutes, the Isles league-leading defense bent, but did not break, even playing without Johnny Boychuk for the back half. Scott Mayfield's diving block on a third period power play embodied the sacrifice the Islanders played with all series. In total, they allowed six goals over four games. 

Video: NYI@PIT, Gm4: Mayfield plays goalie, protects lead

They got a little lucky as well, with Crosby firing a shot off the post during a second period power play. Dominik Simon also just missed netting a rebound far side and another Penguins shot rang off the crossbar in the middle frame. 

"There was a lot of commitment there at the end of the game, some blocks, huge sticks and a big [penalty] kill," Eberle said. "It was an Islander way to win."

Josh Bailey iced the game with an empty-netter, his third goal and fourth point of the playoffs.

Now the Islanders will have some time off while they await the winner of the Washington Capitals-Carolina Hurricanes series. 

The time off should allow some Islanders to heal their bumps and bruises. Trotz didn't have an update on Boychuk or Cal Clutterbuck, who both left and did not return. 

 Video: NYI@PIT, Gm4: Nelson buries feed from Bailey

That's one update the Isles will be looking forward to, the other will be when they officially get to continue playing. After all, a First Round win isn't the finish line, rather a checkpoint along the way. 

"It feels good. This is just one of our goals heading towards that ultimate goal," Matt Martin said. "Making the playoffs was one. Win the first round was one. Win the second round, but ultimately you want to go home with the Cup. We're happy with the result and the way we are playing, but there's a long way to go." 

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