Islanders depth reemerges for first time in Flyers series – New York Post

The Islanders pride themselves on being a four-line team and that rang true in their Game 3 victory over the Flyers, in which two of their three goals came from the bottom six.

Through the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Flyers, the Islanders have primarily gotten their scoring from the top two lines and defensemen. The only bottom-six skater to contribute had been Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the Islanders’ trade-deadline acquisition that was meant to add depth down the lineup at center.

Fourth-line winger Matt Martin notched his third goal of the postseason to pull even with the Flyers 1-1 at 7:12 of the second, standing all alone in front of Flyers’ goaltender Carter Hart and tapping in a feed from Mathew Barzal. Then, as the final seconds of the middle frame wound down, Leo Komarov got a stick on a pass from Derick Brassard and got it to trickle in past Hart for the Islanders’ first lead of the night.

“It was huge,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of the depth contributions on a Zoom call following Saturday’s 3-1 win. “I think that’s the way we’re built. We’re not probably blessed with a lot of those top-end guys, in terms of the heavy, high offensive guys. But we have a lot of very valuable pieces that can contribute in different ways. You saw that, you got a goal from Martin, you got a goal from Leo [Komarov] and the [Derick] Brassard and Pageau line was very good.”

Matt Martin (right) celebrates with Mathew Barzal after scoring a goal in the Islanders' 3-1 Game 3 win over the Flyers.
Matt Martin (right) celebrates with Mathew Barzal after scoring a goal in the Islanders’ 3-1 Game 3 win over the Flyers.AP

Komarov’s late second-period goal was his first this postseason and the second playoff tally of his career. Trotz was unable to contain his smile when asked about Komarov during his postgame presser.

“Anybody who has Leo, he’s obviously a seasoned pro, but he brings people into the fight,” Trotz said. “He’s sometimes not the prettiest guy to watch, but he’s a guy who gets his nose dirty all the time. He’s a guy that can help you in a lot of defensive situations, he can play multiple positions and his experience. He’s one of the guys that you always can have fun with on a daily basis.

“Every team has characters, Leo is a character. Not only that, he’s a good player for us and he’s a good piece.”

Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov said the two unexpected days off between Games 2 and 3, along with practice Friday and a morning skate Saturday, helped him settle his game back down after getting pulled in Game 2.

“It was an important game for our team, for me especially after Game 2, I know I didn’t play well,” Varlamov said. “It happens, you know? Nothing goes perfect, especially in the playoffs, there’s a lot of games going on. You lose today, you win tomorrow. So I learned from my mistakes.”

Trotz opted to insert Brassard back into the lineup for the first time in three games, placing him back in his usual third-line role. Ross Johnston was scratched after taking Brassard’s place the last three games.

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