Islanders force Game 6 with thrilling double OT win over Lightning

The Islanders aren’t packing up their things in Edmonton just yet.

Barely hanging on to a 1-1 tie from the first period on, the Isles kept their season alive behind a goal from Jordan Eberle in double overtime to defeat the Lightning 2-1 Tuesday night at Rogers Place and force a Game 6 on Thursday.

The game was decided when ex-Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk fanned on a shot from the point. Anders Lee beat Shattenkirk to the puck and his pretty cross-ice feed left Eberle with nothing but net to shoot at. He didn’t miss.

Seemingly making it as difficult on themselves as they possibly could, the Islanders appeared to be crossing their fingers for overtime rather than ending it in regulation.

From the end of the second period and through the first 8 ½ minutes of the third, the Isles were unable to get a single shot on goal even after earning a power play 44 seconds into the final frame. They went nearly 12 minutes without a shot.

And with 1:23 left in regulation, Anthony Beauvillier earned a double minor for high sticking Mikhail Sergachev. Tampa Bay then opened the extra period with 2:37 left on the man-advantage but the Islanders were able to fend it off, going 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the win.

The Lightning dictated most of the first extra period, nearly capitalizing with seconds left on the clock with a flurry of pressure that Ryan Pulock helped stifle as the horn sounded. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced, including four big stops in the first overtime and eight in the second.

The only team to win a conference finals after facing a 3-1 series deficit was the Devils in 2000, with current Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello at the helm. Lamoriello’s 2020 Islanders took a step toward becoming the second team to accomplish the feat.

The Islanders had their opportunities to win it in regulation, more than they’d probably like to admit.

After Tampa Bay nearly took its first lead of the night halfway through the second period off a Carter Veraghe goal that was overturned after Barry Trotz challenged for offsides, the Islanders should have been shocked awake. Instead, on the following two-on-one opportunity, Jean-Gabriel Pageau was hesitant to take the shot and tried to dish to Lee before Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian got a stick on the puck to break up the rush.

Then there was a nearly two-minute-long delayed penalty that the Islanders managed to pin the Lightning in the offensive zone with six skaters out on the ice. Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak blocked all three of Mathew Barzal’s shots and Paquette got in front of Brock Nelson’s.

On the subsequent power play, the Islanders registered just one shot on goal. The Lightning, on the other hand, mustered a three-on-two shorthanded opportunity that Varlamov had to make a glove save on.

Tampa Bay was able to get warmed up early after Cal Clutterbuck was called for slashing just over five minutes into the game. The Islanders were pinned in their zone for nearly the entire penalty kill as the Lightning racked up four shots to go up 7-1 in shots early.

And even when Nikita Kucherov tripped Nelson to put the Lightning on the penalty kill, the Isles struggled to set up in the offensive zone or gain possession. It wasn’t until more than halfway through the man-advantage opportunity that Ryan Pulock blasted one from the top of the left faceoff circle to lift the Islanders to a 1-0 lead at 15:41 of the first.

Varlamov had to come up with a big glove save on Yanni Gourde as the Lightning came out heavy 42 seconds into the middle frame. But a hard shot from Blake Coleman resulted in a long rebound off of Varlamov’s pads before Victor Hedman put it away to tie the game 1-1.

Halfway through the second period, the Islanders’ season flashed before their eyes when Carter Veraghe sent a wide-open wrist shot past Varlamov after Paquette bodied Scott Mayfield off the puck in the corner. But Trotz challenged for offsides and the goal was overturned to keep the score 1-1.

New York Post

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