The New York Islanders are still alive, after beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime last night to force a Game 6.
The Islanders made an interesting lineup decision, going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with Johnny Boychuk playing his first game since Game 1 of the qualifying round.
Despite being outshot in the first period, the Islanders struck first on the power play, scoring when Ryan Pulock put a point shot through a screen with under five minutes to go in the period. It’s hard to tell if Andrei Vasilevskiy was able to see it at all or not, but regardless, the Islanders took the lead into the intermission.
In the second period, the Lightning would tie the game, when the puck popped out to Victor Hedman and he was able to blast it by Semyon Varlamov. The Islanders were caught out of position on a bad change, gave up an easy zone entry for an odd-man rush and it ended up leading to a goal. That’s a mistake that shouldn’t be happening in an elimination game. Then a bit later, it looked like Tampa Bay had taken the lead when Carter Verhaeghe snapped a shot by Varlamov, but after a coach’s challenge, it was called back on an offside.
In the third period, Varlamov made some big saves and neither team was able to break the tie. Anthony Beauvillier had taken a high-sticking penalty that became a double-minor which led into overtime, but the Lightning couldn’t capitalize.
The teams traded more chances in double overtime, until Kevin Shattenkirk whiffed on a point shot, then Anders Lee chipped the puck by him and won a foot race, fed Jordan Eberle with a great pass and Eberle was able to put it past a sliding Vasilevskiy to end it. It was a great moment, seeing not just the players but even all of the coaches showing a ton of emotion after the goal.
I had said that Varlamov needed to be a difference-maker and in my opinion, he was. New York was outshot but he made some great saves in pretty much every period to keep the Lightning to a single goal.
The Islanders battled hard and stayed alive until they were able to capitalize. Let’s hope they’re able to keep the momentum going into Game 6 on Thursday night.
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