Playoff hockey makes its way back to Nassau Coliseum for round 2 of action featuring the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins. The series would come into game 3 tied after a thrilling Islander overtime victory. Semyon Varlamov would start his second straight game and go against Tuukka Rask. The winner of game 3 will have a chance to run away with the series in game 4.
The beginning pace of the game was fast and even. The fans at the coliseum clearly energized the players and helped with the back-and-forth action. However, Boston would put one away first. At 14:48 of the period, Matt Grzelcyk and Taylor Hall would set up Craig Smith for an open shot in the slot. Varlamov would have little chance and Smith would rifle it past him in the upper corner. The Bruins would take the early lead in Long Island. Halfway through the period, both teams would have three shots on the net. The Islanders would have a chance back in the game after Brad Marchand high-sticked Travis Zajac to send New York to the power play. The Islanders would get a couple of quality chances that would be blocked by a Boston defenseman. The period would end with New York leading in shots 7 to 5.
The Islanders would show big pushback to try and tie up the game. There would only be two shots on net halfway through the period and both would come from the Islanders. Moreover, bodies were flying in the period. Adam Pelech threw the first big hit on David Pastrnak. Seconds later, Charlie McAvoy would throw a hit on Jean-Gabriel Pageau. However, Pastrnak would retaliate and earn himself a slashing penalty. New York would get more opportunities on the power play, but Rask would come up big to keep Boston’s lead. The Bruins would come alive and push back harder against the Islanders. However, Varlamov would keep it at a one-goal game. The shots on goal would end at 18 for Boston and 15 for New York.
The Bruins kept up their pace in the third period. On the other hand, the Islanders would register only three shots on the net in the first ten minutes of the period. At 8:56 of the period, the Bruins would head to the power play after a tripping penalty committed by Josh Bailey. Varlamov would be the reason the Islanders would still be in the game. He would have to come up big again during the Bruins power play. The Islanders’ netminder and penalty kill would be able to kill off the penalty and keep the game within reach. Finally, Mathew Barzal would score his first of the playoffs to tie the game with five minutes remaining. The Islanders would get the puck past Rask on their twentieth shot on the net. With 2:15 remaining, Sean Kuraly is sent to the box after cross-checking Palmieri into the boards. Despite a plethora of chances, the Bruins penalty kill killed the penalty to send the game to overtime. Regulation would end with a 1-1 tie and Boston leading in shots 39-24.
Only 3:15 into the overtime period, the Islanders would fire 4 shots on the net. New York would have the obvious edge to start the sudden-death period and would press hard. However, similar to the entire game, Rask would come up huge. Unfortunately, the Bruins would fire their second shot in overtime that would get past Varlamov. A shot from below the hash marks and a very tough angle would end the game 2-1 and give Boston a 2-1 series lead. The final shots on goal would be 40 for Boston and 29 for New York.
Another tight game between the Islanders and Bruins made for a great game 3. Game 4 could be the biggest game of the series and shift momentum for both teams. The teams would prove how close they are with the second game of three going to overtime. Along with tight games, the goaltending for both teams has been impeccable and a main reason for the tight race. The Islanders find themselves down 2-1 in the series again. A series lead can be erased as easily as a one-goal lead in this series. Game 4 will be on Saturday night at 7:15 in Nassau Coliseum!