TAMPA BAY 3 NY ISLANDERS 5 (Lightning lead series 2-1)
The New York Islanders clawed their way back into the Eastern Conference Final on Friday night with a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3. However, it wasn’t easy as the Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to tie the game at 3-3. Brock Nelson gave the Islanders the lead back with 3:25 remaining in regulation and it held up as the game winner in a game New York had to have.
Tampa Bay entered the match with a 2-0 series lead, but they were missing two top-six forwards. Brayden Point sat out the contest following an injury in Game 2 on Wednesday and Alex Killorn was suspended for Friday's game for a hit from behind on Nelson. Carter Verhaeghe and Mitchell Stephens checked in for the Lightning. Tampa Bay used seven blueliners in Game 3, which has been a lineup decision for coach Jon Cooper for seven straight matches. The Islanders didn’t have the services of fourth-line center Casey Cizikas because of an injury. Derick Brassard and Michael Dal Colle were inserted into the lineup for New York to replace Cizikas and Andrew Ladd, who was a healthy scratch.
Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring for the Islanders at the 12:58 mark of the first period after Andrei Vasilevskiy’s pad came undone. Vasilevskiy made 31 saves on 35 shots in the loss, while Semyon Varlamov blocked 34 shots in the win. Mikhail Sergachev tied the game for the Lightning when he jumped into the rush and received a great feed from Yanni Gourde. Sergachev also assisted on Ondrej Palat’s power-play goal in the third period.
The Islanders took a 3-1 lead in the second stanza thanks to goals from Adam Pelech and Anthony Beauvillier. Pelech has been a steadying presence for New York on the blueline and he was rewarded with the first playoff goal of his career in Game 3. Beauvillier, who also picked up an assist in the match, got his ninth goal of the postseason and his first points of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Lightning stormed back in the third frame with goals from Palat and Tyler Johnson, who tied the match at the 12:04 mark. Palat potted his seventh goal of the postseason on Tampa Bay’s only power play of the contest. The Islanders were on the man advantage twice in the win, but came up empty. Johnson’s marker, which was his fourth, snapped a seven-game goalless slump and held up after being reviewed for a possible high stick.
Nelson broke the tie shortly after Johnson's goal with his eighth of the postseason. He posted a two-point performance after he was roughed up in Game 2. Josh Bailey, who assisted on both of the Islanders’ goals in the third period, has recorded seven multi-point efforts this postseason. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who also had an assist, sealed the win with an empty-netter, while receiving plenty of whacks from Nikita Kucherov along the way. That led to a chippy finish, as Pageau, Kucherov, Clutterbuck, Sergachev and Victor Hedman picked up misconducts. Matt Martin dropped the gloves with Barclay Goodrow eight seconds afterward. Goodrow was called upon to answer for his high cross-check to Nelson from Game 2.
In the end, the Islanders took advantage of some costly mistakes by the Lightning, which sets up an important game on Sunday afternoon. New York can pull even if they can build on this momentum or the Lightning can claim a commanding 3-1 series lead. Tampa Bay will get Killorn back from his one-game ban and will hope that Point, who skated on Friday, is available to return. Coach Barry Trotz said following the contest that he wasn't sure yet if Cizikas would be ready to play on Sunday.
Editor’s Note: Whether you want to win a 50/50 or take down a GPP, use our DFS Optimizer, customizable projections and more to create the smartest lineups. Subscribe to all four major sports for as low as $7.99/month!
Tomas Nosek is doubtful for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Dallas after he was injured in Game 2 on Thursday. Dallas’ Radek Faksa has be re-evaluated, but he could also be missing for Game 4 after he was hurt on Thursday. Stars coach Rick Bowness also revealed on Friday that Ben Bishop, Taylor Fedun and Stephen Johns remain unfit to play.
Pittsburgh shipped Nick Bjugstad to Minnesota for a conditional draft pick. The Penguins retained 50% of Bjugstad’s salary and will get a 2021 seventh-round pick from the Wild if he plays in 70 games or scores 30 points. Bjugstad was limited to 13 appearances in 2019-20 due to a core muscle injury, which required a procedure to repair, and spinal surgery for a herniated disc.
Los Angeles signed Sean Walker to a four-year contract extension that carries an AAV of $2.65 million. He posted five goals, 24 points, 84 blocks and 81 hits in 70 games with the Kings last season.