New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss came up huge with a penalty shot stop in overtime and youngster Alan Quine won it in double overtime. The Florida Panthers now face a must-win Game 6, and they’ll have to win it on the road.
In the first overtime period of a back-and-forth battle between the Islanders and Panthers, the Florida pivot had the game on his stick. The Panthers were awarded a penalty shot seven minutes into the first extra frame when New York blueliner Calvin de Haan palmed the puck and tossed it out of the Islanders’ crease. The Panthers chose Barkov to take the shot, and rightfully so. He missed just once in six shootout attempts during the regular season, and there’s no other player the Panthers would have wanted to take the breakaway attempt. But Barkov, who faked forehand before attempting to hoist a backhand, couldn’t seal the game.
Barkov’s opportunity was the best chance the Panthers would have in the two overtime periods, and New York netminder Thomas Greiss, who turned aside the penalty shot attempt, stopped all but one of the 47 shots he faced. And when the Islanders got a chance to end the game on a power play in the second overtime, they made no mistake. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky faked a shot, slid the puck to Quine and the 23-year-old let go a one-timer that found the back of the net. In his sixth career NHL game, Quine scored his first career playoff goal and it was a double overtime-winner.
Quine’s goal was a nice piece of work on the power play by the Islanders, and while he’ll be considered the hero of Game 5 for New York, it’s hard to look past what Greiss did Friday night and into Saturday morning. On a night when Philadelphia Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth posted a 44-save shutout, Greiss turned in a 47-save double overtime victory of his own. That’s a stellar performance, and it’s worth wondering if Jaroslav Halak is going to automatically get the starting gig back should the Islanders advance.
Greiss has stopped 74 of the past 77 shots he faced, boasts a .971 save percentage over those games at 5-on-5 and hasn’t looked even the slightest bit shaky is Games 4 or 5. Really, he hasn’t looked all too out of place in any of the games this series. There were certainly Islanders faithful concerned about Greiss’ ability to take on the playoff workload, but he has no doubt changed the mind of some of those doubters.
Even with how solid Greiss has been, though, securing the series victory won’t come easy. For as much as the battles between the Blues and Blackhawks or Sharks and Kings have been talked about, the series between the Islanders and Panthers has been just as close. Two of the five games have been decided in overtime, four have been one-goal games and neither team has held a clear edge.
Both overtime periods Friday had the feeling that either team could win at any moment if the break went their way, and that’s what Game 6 will likely come down to. The goaltenders have gone stop-for-stop and the teams have gone shot-for-shot. Whoever capitalizes when the moment arises, though, could take Game 6. And even if the Islanders are one win away from advancing, this still feels like anyone’s series.