Defenseman Scott Mayfield has increased his aggressiveness throughout the first-round series against the Penguins, and he was one of the Islanders’ most complete players in their 5-4 loss in Game 3 on Thursday night.
After a lackluster performance in the Isles’ series-opening win, in which he was on the ice for all three of the Penguins’ goals, Mayfield has tightened up his game and begun contributing offensively. He led the Islanders with a goal and two assists in Thursday’s loss at Nassau Coliseum, including the dish that led to Cal Clutterbuck’s third-period goal that tied the game for a second time.
“I think no matter what, when you lose, it’s tough,” Mayfield said. “That’s really all I care about. So it’s tough going down 2-1, losing one at home. But that’s the beauty of playoffs, you can bounce right back in two days. We just got to refocus and have a good start on Saturday.”
Mayfield got the Islanders on the board at 11:03 of the second, which knotted the game at 1-1. The 28-year-old took a cross-ice pass from Mathew Barzal and waited for the shooting lane to open as Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese slid out of position. From the top of the right circle, he then sent it high-glove on Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry.
In Game 2, Mayfield led all skaters with eight shot attempts, seven of which were on goal. He also put a few shots on net early in the second period, which led to the Islanders’ lone tally from Josh Bailey.
“I think the thing that Scott is doing is, in the offensive zone, we haven’t got a whole lot off the rush, but what he’s doing is he’s getting a shot through or getting some traffic,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s what you need. You look at the goals tonight, those were playoff-type goals. Those are what you see night in and night out when you turn on the TV and watch … the highlights. Those are the goals that you see for the most part, so we’ve got to continue that.
“It was a good sign that we scored four goals, bad sign is we gave up five. So we know we can lock things down a little bit better even.”
In his second start of the series, Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov turned aside 22 of the 27 shots he faced.
Throughout the regular season, Varlamov allowed five goals only once, in the 6-3 loss to the Capitals on Jan. 28.
“I’ll have to look at it again,” Trotz said of Varlamov’s play. “Sometimes your first reaction, you know, might not be favorable. But I’m gonna look at all the chances and the goals and see what we could have done.”