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NHL playoffs: Islanders shut out Flyers in Game 7, advance to East finals

Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss defends the net during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 7, 2020.
Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, pictured in March, had 16 saves in his team’s 4-0 victory over the Flyers on Saturday night in Toronto.
(Jim McIsaac / Associated Press)

Thomas Greiss stopped 16 shots, and the New York Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1993, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 7 of the second-round series Saturday night.

Brock Nelson had a goal and two assists, and defensemen Scott Mayfield and Andy Greene scored 3:46 apart in the first period. Anthony Beauvillier had an empty-netter with 6:18 left, and New York bounced back after failing to close out the series in losing the previous two games in overtime. The Islanders advanced to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Greiss posted his first career playoff shutout in his first Game 7. He was making his third appearance of the series, and second start, in place of Semyon Varlamov, who allowed nine goals on 63 shots in losing the past two games in overtime, including a 5-4 double-overtime loss in Game 6.

“It’s awesome. It’s the guys in the room. We all compete for each other. It’s a great achievement for the whole team, for fans. I’m happy to help,” Greiss said. “It was an unreal game. It was the best defensive game I’ve seen the team play.”

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Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko became the second California-born goaltender in history to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The first? Meet John Blue.

Without being specific, Islanders coach Barry Trotz noted players being injured when asked about his goaltenders during his pregame news conference.

Greiss picked up New York’s final two wins of the series, after a 26-save outing in a 3-2 win in Game 4.

The Islanders face a short turnaround in having to travel to Edmonton, Alberta, to face the well-rested Lightning in a conference final series that opens Monday. The Lightning have been off since a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Boston in Game 5 on Monday.

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It’s the third meeting between the two teams, with Tampa Bay winning the previous two in five games, including a second-round series in 2016.

The Flyers ran out of gas in a game they fell behind 3-0, which led to coach Alain Vigneault pulling Carter Hart for an extra attacker with seven minutes remaining. Hart stopped 22 shots.

The Islanders became the third team of the second round of the playoffs to win Game 7 after squandering a 3-1 series lead. The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the meet in the Western Conference finals after each won Game 7 of their series Friday night.

The Flyers rolled into the playoffs by closing the regular season winning nine of their last 10 games before the season was placed on pause because of the coronavirus in March. And they picked up where they left off by sweeping the three-game preliminary round to clinch the conference’s top seed, and then eliminated Montreal in six games.

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The Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers are having great seasons, something not lost on fans who can’t celebrate with them in person because of COVID-19.

Defense became and issue. After allowing just nine goals through the first seven playoff games, they closed giving up 31 in their last nine.

Philadelphia’s power-power play unit particularly fizzled in closing the playoffs going 0 for 17 over its final eight games, and converting just four of 52 chances.

The Isles improved their Game 7 record to 4-5, and 1-2 against Philadelphia, after losing to the Flyers in the semifinals in 1975 and their last playoff meeting, a second-round series in 1987.

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Notes: The Flyers are now 9-8 in Game 7 and 1-18 when trailing a playoff series 3-1. Their only series win came in rallying from a 3-0 deficit against Boston in the second round in 2010. Islanders left wing Michael Dal Colle played his second game this postseason and first after sitting out the past six in replacing right win Leo Komarov. The Islanders improved to 11-0 when leading a series 3-1.

Up next: The Islanders begin the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay on Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific.


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