After a heartbreaking loss on Wednesday at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders returned the favour in slightly less dramatic fashion yesterday, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Islanders have been on their heels in terms of shot rates throughout this series, but they while they’ve bent at times, they have yet to break. They successfully took advantage of an absence of Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn, to score a 5-3 victory.
New York Islanders 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 3; TBL leads 2-1
Although the Islanders were able to keep the Lightning hemmed in their end and fire away at Anderi Vasilevskiy multiple times, the Lightning once again had the lion’s share of scoring chances, and were especially dominant in the first two periods. However, the Islanders struck first where it mattered; on the scoresheet; courtesy of Cal Clutterbuck at the 12:58 mark in the opening frame. Under four minutes later, Mikhail Sergechev would tie it up off an impressive finish on the backhand:
New York would then go up 3-1, thanks to goals from Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier, but the lead evaporated in the third, courtesy of Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. Brock Nelson would be the hero in this contest, giving the Islanders the lead once again with 3:25 left in the 3rd:
The Isles sealed the deal with an empty-netter, courtesy of none other that Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but not before he took a two-handed slash from Nikita Kucherov.
Nikita Kucherov doesn't want Jean-Gabriel Pageau to get his empty-netter. Pageau takes exception after scoring pic.twitter.com/Uq1T1ZJY3k— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 12, 2020
Overall, the Islanders heavily relied on Semyon Varlavov’s 34 saves; many of them from right in front of the net; to secure the victory. Their line of Pageau, Clutterbuck and Matt Martin did most of the heavy lifting, while the rest of the lineup struggled to hold off the Lightning’s attack. If Point returns in this series for Tampa, things could turn ugly.