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Islanders survive double OT in Game 5, avoid being eliminated by Lightning

Jordan Eberle nets the game winner in double overtime and Semyon Varlamov makes 36 saves as New York escapes with a 2-1 victory over Tampa to force Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

It wasn’t pretty, but losing is even uglier, and the New York Islanders refused to do that in Game 5 against the Lightning. The Islanders avoided elimination, grinding out a 2-1 win in double overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Tampa Bay’s series lead shrinks to 3-2.

Jordan Eberle kept the Islanders’ season alive with the 2-1 OT winner against the Lightning, connecting on a pretty rush play with an Anders Lee setup. The Islanders put their refuse-to-lose attitude on display in particular heading into overtime, as a double-minor penalty spilled over from regulation.

That game-winner was a beauty:

With that, the Islanders and Lightning turn around for Game 6 on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN -- livestream).


The Islanders grabbed something that’s often crucial for them: the first goal. On the tail end of what initially looked like a weak power play, Nick Leddy found Ryan Pulock in his wheelhouse for the 1-0 tally.

During the second period, Victor Hedman pounced on a well-marinated rebound to score the 1-1 goal. The towering defenseman keeps making big plays and eating huge minutes; this is now his eighth tally of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Later on, it looked like the Lightning might get the Islanders in a tough spot on what seemed like a 2-1 tally. Instead, the play was well offside, so Carter Verhaeghe’s would-be-nice-sniper fades into a memory.

Despite the stakes, the third period was a grinding, tight-checking, smothering affair. Nikita Kucherov looked like he was fighting through pain for much of Game 5, but generally kept playing. At one point, Ondrej Palat also looked a little shaken up. (Johnny Boychuk endured some of the most pain on this night, at least early on.)

Lightning - Islanders Game 5 goes to overtime, and beyond

After seeing the Golden Knights’ season end after a power-play goal allowed from a puck over the glass penalty, it seemed like Lightning - Islanders Game 5 might echo that moment. Anthony Beauvillier was whistled for a four-minute double-sticking minor 18:37 into a tied third period. Instead, Semyon Varlamov and the Islanders stood strong as that advantage bled (not unlike Mikhail Sergachev) into overtime.

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Five

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 15: Mikhail Sergachev #98 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends to his injury after taking a high-stick from Anthony Beauvillier (not pictured) of the New York Islanders during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on September 15, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Getty Images

There were some chances both ways during the first overtime period, but no dice. Andrei Vasilevskiy made tough stops when called upon -- albeit not as often as Varlamov had.

As you’d expect, officials were reluctant to use their whistles when there weren’t “automatic” penalties like a high-sticking or puck over the glass. Even so, it’s a little controversial that Verhaeghe got away with an interference penalty where the hit left Cal Clutterbuck shaken up. (Then again, maybe the Islanders got away with one of their own late?)

The Islanders ended up with just 24 shots on goal, but won. Give the Islanders credit for guts, if not creativity, although Eberle reminded us that sometimes they can provide some of that sort of magic, too.

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (TB leads 3-2)

Lightning 8, Islanders 2. (recap)
Lightning 2, Islanders 1 (recap)
Islanders 5, Lightning 3 (recap)
Lightning 4, Islanders 1 (recap)
Islanders 2, Lightning 1 [OT].
Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 7:
Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.