They say it’s not over till it’s over, and being down 3-1 in a series has not affected most teams at this time in multiple sports.
Jordan Eberle, who has not seen many goals during the postseason, found a huge opportunity after receiving the puck from Anders Lee and got past Andrei Vasilevskiy’s defenses and sealed the deal in a win-or-go-home Game 5 victory for the New York Islanders, cutting the series deficit to 3-2 in favor of the Tampa Bay Lightning and giving Eberle his 5th goal of the postseason.
The game itself was tough on both sides as both teams traded a goal during the 1st and 2nd period, with the Islanders striking in the first period, courtesy of Ryan Pulock’s 2nd goal of the postseason, then Victor Hedman hit his 8th of the postseason in the 2nd period.
Along with the goals, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy played their game and their efforts led to overtime for the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals. Varlamov faced 37 shots on goal, and saved all but one of them, while the Islanders had significantly less shots on goal than Tampa Bay, shooting 24 times on goal during the game as Vasilevskiy saved 22 of them.
Game 5 featured the return of Johnny Boychuk, who has not played a game since early in the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round due to injury, and contributed to the defense for the Islanders in a huge way. For the Lightning, Brayden Point was inactive for Game 5 due to a lingering injury that has been bothering him, depleting the Lightning lineup even more with Stamkos remaining inactive and is still not expected to come back during the series.
Entering overtime, the Islanders were 1-3 in OT games in the postseason, losing the last 3 to the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 2, who the Islanders defeated in 7 games. After a high-sticking penalty called on Anthony Beauvillier late in the 3rd period led to a double-minor penalty that went into the first overtime, the Islanders had to work a penalty kill for four minutes between the end of the third period and the start of overtime. The Islanders managed to initiate what may have been their biggest penalty kill in the postseason.
With the win, the Islanders force Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning as they will play once more against each other Thursday night at 8pm with a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals remaining on the line with the winner playing the Dallas Stars, who defeated former Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner and the Vegas Golden Knights 3 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals.