UNIONDALE, N.Y. — There was never any love loss between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, and that was on display on Thursday in Game 3. A combined five goals were scored in the third period, but in the end, it was Pittsburgh that ended the night with a 5-4 win over the Islanders.
New York rallied back twice in the third period, but each time Pittsburgh had an answer for New York. Brandon Tanev scored the game-winner for Pittsburgh in the closing minutes of the third period to lift his team to a win and Sidney Crosby had a game-saving block on a shot by Brock Nelson that looked destined for the back of the net.
“I thought we lost momentum every time we scored,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We got it tied up on the power play and then we took a penalty and I looked at it again and that’s a pretty slight call. I thought Clutterbuck was in the white paint and sort of got his feet scooped and they have to protect the goalies, I understand. We had to kill the penalty and we didn’t.”
Cal Clutterbuck scored twice for the New York Islanders, along with Scott Mayfield and Anthony Beauvillier. Semyon Varlamov made 22 saves in the loss.
“We’re disappointed but as soon as that buzzer rang, it’s over with,” Mathew Barzal said. “We don’t dwell on anything or hang our heads for too long… we’ll be alright.”
Tanev’s goal capped a wild third period that saw a massive scrum at the 5:35 mark of the final frame send five players from each team, including Pittsburgh’s entire top line, to the penalty box. The chaos resulted in an Islanders power play and the first of two times that New York evened the score.
Clutterbuck pulled the Islanders within one after he put home a loose puck in front of the net at 3:46 of the third period. It was moments later that the scrum broke out after the Islanders crashed Pittsburgh Net.
Beauvillier scored on the ensuing power play 18 seconds into the man-advantage, The Islanders moved the puck around and Mathew Barzal found Beauvillier at the side of the net for the tying goal.
The 3-3 score lasted less than two minutes before Jeff Carter scored his second of the night off a power-play goal of his own. Carter was able to take the puck and put it past Varlamov to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead.
The chaos wasn’t over after that however, the Islanders managed to even the score at four off Clutterbuck’s second of the night. A shot from the point deflected off Clutterbuck and went into the net.
Thursday marked the first time that the Islanders had scored four goals since the opening game of the series when the Isles won 4-3 in overtime. The Game 3 loss continued a trend between the Islanders and Pittsburgh which has seen every game of the series decided by one goal.
The New York Islanders struggled early for the second consecutive game, allowing the opening goal in the first five minutes.
“The second period we played pretty well until they got those couple,” said Mayfield, who had a three-point night. “We have to figure out a way to get it right off the start. That’s our game plan to get to our game early and we have to figure out a way to do that.”
Kris Letang got Pittsburgh on the board 2:01 into the game off a fluky shot from the blue line. Mayfield scored his first of the playoffs at the 11:03 mark in the second period to tie the game at one.
Jeff Carter scored his first of the night to give Pittsburgh back the lead at 13:33 and Jason Zucker made it 3-1 at the 18:03 mark of the middle frame.
“This is playoff hockey. The game doesn’t get won in the first period,” Beauvillier said. “We obviously would like to have a lead but we’re playing a good team. It’s going to be a fight for 60 minutes.”
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