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NHL Bubble Wrap: The Islanders had to have this game

NHL Scores

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 11: A general view is seen of goaltender Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders being congratulated by teammates on the ice after their 5-3 win in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders at Rogers Place on September 11, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

  • The New York Islanders get a huge win in Game 3 to cut their Eastern Conference Final deficit in half.
  • Brock Nelson gets some revenge after a tough Game 2 earlier this week.
  • Semyon Varlamov and Adam Pelech have big games that may have snuck under the radar.

New York Islanders 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 3 (Lightning lead series 2-1)

It was not technically a must-win game, but this was a game the New York Islanders really needed. Not only because they entered the game facing a 2-0 series deficit, but because the Lightning were playing without three top forwards (Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Alex Killorn). Losing this game would have been crushing and probably slammed the door shut on their season. But thanks to Brock Nelson’s late third period goal to break a tie game the Islanders were able to pick up a 5-3 win to get a huge win in the Eastern Conference Final.


Three Stars

1. Brock Nelson, New York Islanders. In Game 2 he was briefly knocked out of the game on a late hit from Alex Killorn, only to return and take a cross-check to the back of the head on his first shift. It was a tough game. He got some revenge on Friday night by scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period. He finished the game with a pair of points (goal, assist) and now has 17 points this postseason.

2. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. Yeah, he gave up three goals, including two in the third period to surrender what was at the time a 3-1 Islanders lead. But I have a hard time faulting him on the third goal (a deflection from Tyler Johnson) and he really did play a strong game, stopping 34 out of 37 shots to keep the Islanders in the game. There were stretches where Tampa Bay tilted the ice in its favor but Varlamov was able to hold them off. He was the best goalie on the ice tonight.

3. Adam Pelech, New York Islanders. Pelech is one of the Islanders’ most important players, and his return to the lineup has been a game-changer in the postseason. He had a great game on Friday, scoring his first goal of the playoffs, finishing as a plus-4, blocking three shots, and playing close to 20 minutes of ice-time. He may not be a household name in the league, but his impact on the Islanders’ success is undeniable.

Highlights Of The Night

Nelson’s game-winning goal.

The prettiest goal of the night was probably Mikhail Sergachev’s first period goal.

Pelech’s first goal of the playoffs.


  • Varlamov joins Billy Smith as the only Islanders goalies to win 10 games in a single postseason. [NHL PR]
  • With two points on Friday night (two assists) Josh Bailey now has seven multi-point games this postseason, making him the first Islanders player to do that since the 1983 postseason when Bob Bourne and Bryan Trottier accomplished it. [NHL PR]
  • The Islanders have received goals from 17 different players this postseason. They have only had one postseason in franchise history where more players scored a goal. [NHL PR]

Saturday Schedule

Game 4: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars, 8 p.m. ET, NBC, Livestream (Stars lead series 2-1)

Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.