The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders need a Game 7 to determine who will be advancing to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference final.
Philadelphia – which claimed the No. 1 seed via their play in the round-robin – forced this matchup by winning all three of their games in the series in overtime, including the last two while facing elimination. This will be the Flyers' first Game 7 since 2014, when they dropped a 2-1 decision at Madison Square Garden in a matchup with the New York Rangers. The Flyers last reached the conference finals in 2010.
In many ways the stakes are even higher for the Islanders, as New York has not appeared in the conference finals since 1993. Their last Game 7 came in 2015, and they also suffered a 2-1 defeat, falling in Washington to the Capitals.
Can the Islanders avoid the collapse and finally break through, or will the Flyers complete the comeback?
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart stops a shot by New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee during overtime of Game 6. (Photo: Dan Hamilton, USA TODAY Sports)
USA TODAY Sports' NHL experts make their predictions:
Mike Brehm: Flyers 3-2. The Flyers have addressed some of the issues that led me to pick the Islanders before the series begin. In particular, their top players are starting to produce. Kevin Hayes has been a force in recent games, Carter Hart has been tough to beat and Flyers coach Alain Vigneault will have the last line change. This game could also go to overtime.
Jace Evans: Flyers 4-3. Hockey can be a funny game, so I'm riding the team that seems to have fate on its side. Philadelphia was on the brink twice, with the Islanders needing just one goal to break a 27-year conference finals drought, but they couldn't get the puck past Carter Hart in overtime. Having two chances to advance and failing is sure to weigh on all but the strongest teams. Plus, the Flyers received a huge emotional boost in Game 6 when Oskar Lindblom skated in his first contest since December following a battle with cancer. The team is currently riding high; it seems the Islanders may have missed their chance at the KO.
Jimmy Hascup: Islanders 3-2. Four games have been decided by one goal, with the past two ending in overtime. Even though the Islanders lost those last two, they have not been outplayed … but they do need to find a way to beat Flyers goalie Carter Hart. Mathew Barzal is ready to carry the Islanders in Game 7.
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