It looked as if the Nassau Coliseum was about to see its final NHL game ever played with the Islanders on the verge of elimination. However, New York refused to have the Old Barn shut down for good following a season-ending loss.
The Islanders entered Game 6 hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were coming off a dominating 8-0 shutout win at Amalie Arena to take a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup Semifinals that caused goalie changes between Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin, and a cross-checking penalty on Matt Barzal that nearly suspended him for Game 6.
After seemingly making the first period more competitive in this game than in Game 5, the Lightning once again struck first on Brayden Point’s 14th postseason goal with 3:58 left in the first period. The bug that struck Tampa Bay in that period was the early exit of Nikita Kucherov. Entering the second period, the Lightning extended their lead on Anthony Cirelli’s breakaway goal over halfway through the period. After it looked like Tampa Bay was close to consecutive Finals appearances, Jordan Eberle broke the scoreless drought and punched the Islanders’ first goal since taking a 3-0 lead in Game 4, giving Eberle his 4th goal of the postseason and making it a 2-1 lead for Tampa Bay after 40 minutes of play.
New York and Tampa Bay entered the third period on a 4-on-4 after both Scott Mayfield and Blake Coleman got assessed a 2-minute penalty for roughing at the end of the second. Eventually, Mayfield would rectify his own roughing penalty and make the shot into net from the right side of the net past Andrei Vasilevsky, tying the game at 2 and giving Mayfield his 2nd goal of the postseason. Despite a high-sticking penalty on Matt Martin later in the period, the Islanders would keep the score tied into overtime.
As the Islanders looked to reverse what happened to them last season in a Game 6 OT against Tampa Bay, when Anthony Cirelli’s goal punched the final nail in the Islanders’ season last season, Anthony Beauvillier capitalizes on an early takeaway and makes a dead-on goal to seal Game 6 and complete the comeback, keeping the Islanders’ season alive.
For the Islanders, they outshot the Lightning 28-24 despite giving up the first two goals of the game to Tampa Bay. Semyon Varlamov for New York looked to rebound after allowing 3 goals in the first period in Game 5 by allowing 2 goals overall in Game 6 and making 22 saves out of 24 shots that came his way. Coming off his second shutout of the postseason, Vasilevsky for Tampa Bay allowed 3 goals while making 25 saves out of the 28 shots he faced.
The Islanders will play Game 7 in the playoffs for the first time since eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of Round 2 last season in the playoff bubble, seeking their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1984 while Tampa Bay looks to eliminate New York in Round 3 once again in pursuit of defending their Stanley Cup title. Game 7 will take place at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay on Friday night at 8pm on NBCSN, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals and facing the winner of the other semifinal round between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens.