UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 on Thursday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at the Nassau Coliseum. Tampa Bay has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
How it Happened: Brayden Point broke a 1-1 tie in the second period to put Tampa Bay in the winners circle on Thursday. Point’s goal came on a strong effort down low after picking up the rebound. He was able to slide the puck by Semyon Varlamov for the go-ahead goal as he was falling down.
Yanni Gourde broke a scoreless tie in the middle of the first period off a pass from behind the net from Blake Coleman. The play started when Coleman fired a shot on net and had it stopped by Varlamov, but had the rebound go right back to Coleman. The Tampa forward then flung over across to Gourde for the opening goal at 6:40.
Cal Clutterbuck evened the score in the second period after capitalizing on a scramble in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy. The puck managed to pinball its way into the net to tie things up at one at 17:01 of the second.
Varlamov finished the night with 23 saves for the New York Islanders, while Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots.
Straight to the Point: The Tampa Bay forward’s second-period goal extended his goal streak to six games, making him the first Tampa Bay player to find the back of the net in six consecutive playoff games. Point’s 10 goals lead Tampa in the playoff and his goal in the second was his third game-winner in the playoffs. Point has been a thorn in the Islanders side all series, breaking Varlamov’s bid for a shutout in Game 1 and then opening the scoring in Game 2.
Islanders Feel the Jolt: The New York Islanders struggled to get through the neutral zone at times on Thursday and had a number of shots blocked by Tampa Bay. In fact, Tampa Bay got in front of 21 shots and put the weight of their heavy defenders on the Islanders to keep the Islanders off their game at times during the night.
“They defend well. So do we. If they block 21 and we had 30, that’s 50 chances to the net,” Clutterbuck said. “Keep adding to that number, I think we’ll be fine.”
Deja Vu?: Well this certainly seems like a scrip that we’ve seen before for the Islanders in the playoffs. They split the first two games on the road and come back to Long Island and drop Game 3 at home. New York has yet to win Game 3 during this year’s postseason run, but they’ve kept the previous two close. That was the same thing as well on Thursday, with New York falling just short to a Tampa team that employed the always-tough Vasilevskiy to guard the net. The Islanders fell behind early after a slow start in Game 3 this time around and were out-chanced in the first 20 minutes before getting it together in the second period.
“I wish I could tell you. I have no answer for you,” head coach Barry Trotz responded when asked about the similarities to the Isles’ previous series. “It’s just the way it goes. We’re going to have to look forward to the next game, the next opportunity and make it a best of three.”
Up Next: The Islanders and Tampa Bay play Game 4 on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum at 8 p.m.