Isles enter best 2-of-3 stretch in semifinal round with Tampa Bay

As the Stanley Cup semifinal round between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning had made it to the midway stretch, two more wins by either team will give them the series win and the right to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Games 3 and 4 took place at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island after the first two games of the series took place at Amalie Arena in Tampa with both teams splitting the first two as the Islanders took Game 1 with a 2-1 win and the Lightning responding back with a 4-2 win over New York.

Entering Game 3, the Lightning struck first with a goal midway through first period thanks to Yanni Gourde. After Cal Clutterbuck evened the score at one late in the 2nd period, the Lightning capitalize on a penalty called on Adam Pelech for interference from Brayden Point 20 seconds before the end of the second and 2 seconds following the end of the Lightning power play. With no score by either side in the third, the Lightning took their first lead in the series.

After the Lightning took a 2-1 series lead, the Islanders responded back in Game 4. After no score in the first period for the second time in the series, the New York started the scoring spree first by once again putting together an explosive 2nd-period performance with 3 goals from Josh Bailey, Matt Barzal, and Matt Martin. Entering the third period, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson gave Tampa Bay hope by scoring goals to make a 3-2 lead for the Islanders 6:43 into the period. With seconds left, Point had an easy-looking shot when Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov moved too far away from net. However, Islanders defensemen, Ryan Pulock, made one of the biggest blocks in Islanders playoff history to preserve the 3-2 win for New York and were able to tie the series at 2.

Last year, when New York lost in Round 3 to Tampa Bay, they got their second win of the series in Game 5 before eventually falling in Game 6, losing the series 4-2. Now, the Islanders continue to push for a better playoff run than last season as they work towards their first Finals appearance since 1984, the final year of the 4-straight title dynasty.

Game 5 will take place Monday night at 8pm at Amalie Arena on NBCSN, called by Islanders home network play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke. Game 6 will return to the Coliseum on Wednesday night at 8pm on the same network as the Islanders continue to ensure playing at Nassau for the rest of the postseason as much as possible before it eventually closes and the team relocates to UBS Arena in Belmont, beginning next season. If necessary, Game 7 will be in Tampa at the same time and same network.

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