Being up by two at any point in the game does not give you a definitive win in any capacity yet. And when the Islanders realized that, they matched the amount of goals Tampa Bay got in the third period.
Entering the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Islanders suffered brutal losses in the first two games of the series, losing 8-2 to the Lightning in Game 1, then losing Game 2 on Nikita Kucherov’s late-3rd period goal with 7 seconds left. The Islanders started to feel the pressure, especially since Game 2’s loss was most likely due to lack of effective shots on goal and power play opportunities.
In the first period, Cal Clutterbuck, who suffered an injury and was questionable for the last game, provided the first goal of the game and his second of the postseason to give the Islanders the lead until Mikhail Sergachev got his second goal of the postseason to tie the game before the end of the first period.
The Islanders went all out in the second period starting with Adam Pelech, who has been one of the best defensive players on the Islanders roster during the postseason, notching his first goal of the postseason to put New York back in front, then Anthony Beauvillier followed in pursuit with his 9th postseason goal for a 3-1 lead at the end of the second period.
Then, in the third period, Tampa Bay began a comeback attempt starting with Ondrej Palat’s power-play goal after Erik Cernak drew a holding penalty on Jordan Eberle. 10 minutes later, Tyler Johnson provides a wild goal against Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov that was almost called back due to controversy about it being a high stick shot, which would’ve stopped the play on ice. But instead, Johnson’s goal tied the game. However, the Islanders would not stop trying their best and Brock Nelson his 8th postseason goal with 3:35 left.
With the Islanders up 4-3 and time winding down, the Lightning went on a man-up with an empty net, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau takes advantage and gets the empty net goal, his 8th postseason goal, to seal the game, but not before he and Kucherov get heated up after Kucherov drew a delayed penalty before the goal for hooking Peageau. With the game heating up, Matt Martin and Barclay Goodrow drew punches at each other with 30 seconds left, but nothing disrupted the Islanders’ 5-3 victory in the end.
After a tough first two games for the Islanders’ goaltenders, Semyon Varlamov faced 37 shots on goal, and saved 34 of them, while Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy faced 35 shots on goal and saved 30 of them, allowing Varlamov to shine in Game 3 and get his 10th win of the postseason, while Vasilevskiy lost his 4th game of the postseason.
With a Game 3 win, the Islanders cut series deficit to a 2-1 Tampa Bay lead. The Islanders will look to even up the series in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at 3pm that is filled with much sports while the Western Conference Finals continues play with the Dallas Stars leading the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 with Game 4 tonight at 8pm.