|Record||Goaltender||GAA / SV%|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||10-3-0||Andrei Vasilevskiy||4.14 / .886|
|New York Islanders||12-4-3||Semyon Varlamov||3.05 / .919|
TLDR: Despite a third-period push from Tampa, early goals from New York sets the stage for the Islanders to win their first game of the series, and snap the Bolts six-game win streak.
In a potentially tide-changing Game 3, the New York Islanders were looking to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole. After failing to seal a win in a heart-dropping Game 2, Barry Trotz and his Isles hoped to capitalize on a Lightning team without Alex Killorn and superstar Brayden Point. Should the Bolts win, and take a 3-0 series lead, the Islanders would all but find themselves writing their own history.
Vezina Finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy undoubtedly got the start for the Lightning tonight, and Semyon Varlamov started in between the pipes for the Islanders. As previously mentioned, the Bolts were without Alex Killorn, who was issued a one-game suspension for a questionable hit against Brock Nelson in Game 2, and star goal-scorer and point-getter Brayden Point was out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury. With his absence, Anthony Cirelli was promoted to the top line with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. The Islanders played without Casey Cizikas and Andrew Ladd who just prior to puck-drop had been deemed unfit-to-play.
Early on, the Islanders got a shot away on Vasilevskiy, but the goaltender had an answer. Semyon Varlamov was challenged with a sequence of scoring opportunities as the Bolts maintained extended offensive zone pressure. With eight minutes remaining in the first, neither team had received a power play, but the Bolts had the best scoring chances of the period. At the 12:58 mark, the Islanders scored first to make it 1-0, as Cal Clutterbuck finally solved Vasilevskiy after multiple straps on the goaltenders’ equipment came loose.
Vasilevskiy stopped Mat Barzal on a breakaway shortly thereafter, to keep his team behind by just one. Mikhail Sergachev tied the game at one goal apiece with 3:29 remaining in the first on a forehand-backhand dish past Varlamov. The game-tying goal was Sergachev’s 2nd of the postseason.
The score remained tied 1-1 heading into the 2nd period, with Tampa narrowly outshooting the Isles 16-14.
Despite the 2nd period starting with a few more whistles than we’d liked, after the three-minute marker, play proceeded as there-and-back between both ends of the ice. The Isles and Bolts both got good looks. The Islanders received the first power play of the night, as Mitchell Stephens went off for slashing. The Isles were 1 for 9 on the man-advantage through the two games of this series. Tampa killed off the penalty, but Adam Pelech scored anyways moments after the penalty expired. Pelech’s goal made the score 2-1, Islanders.
Cedric Paquette and Anders Lee wrestled one another momentarily, right after the Isles 2nd goal. Both Paquette and Lee were called for two-minute minors for roughing and so play resumed as 4-on-4. With 6:10 remaining in the 2nd period, Anthony Beauvillier extended his teams lead by two to make it 3-1, New York.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was forced to make a series of increasingly challenging saves as the second period neared its expiration. Shots on goal were tied 25-25 with 2:47 remaining. Tampa trailed by 2 heading into the third.
The final frame began with the Bolts in New York’s defensive zone as they tried to come within one of the Isles. At the 1:53 mark, the Lightning finally received their first power play as Jordan Eberle went off for holding against Erik Cernak. Right off the jump, the Islanders nearly scored shorthanded. A set play from Sergachev, to Nikita Kucherov, and then to Ondrej Palat ended with the puck behind Varlamov to make it 3-2 not even 60 seconds into the power play.
The Islanders got their 2nd power play opportunity as Ryan McDonough went off for hooking at the 5:28 mark. The Lightning got two short-handed chances on the successful kill, but the score remained 3-2. Tyler Johnson tied the game with a tip-in that Isles goaltender Varlamov couldn’t track.
Officials reviewed the goal to evaluate if it was scored with a high-stick, but the goal was upheld. With the game tied 3-3, both Tampa and the Islanders had the chance to seal their respective fates. With 3:25 remaining in the game, Brock Nelson got his team back on top, making it 4-3 Isles.
Bolts bench-boss Jon Cooper elected to pull Vasilevskiy for the extra skater with just under two minutes left. With 35 second left, JG Pageau scored an empty-net goal to seal the Isles first win of the series.
Moments later, Matt Martin and Barclay Goodrow dropped the mitts for the sake of doing so, but New York emerged victorious where it mattered most. Game 4 is set for Sunday September 13th at 3:00pm EST.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game:
- No Point? No problem. Tampa has plenty of goal-scorers, they just need to be able to win.
- With the Islanders win, this series could now go either way.
- How much longer can Varlamov sustain this kind of play?
Below is the remaining schedule for DAL vs COL:
Sunday September 13 @ 3:00pm EST
Tuesday September 15 @ 8:00pm EST
Thursday September 17 @ 8:00pm EST
Saturday September 19 @ 7:30pm EST