Trailing by two goals in the second period of an elimination game, the New York Islanders kept their composure. They got one goal before the end of the period, and tied it in the third.
Anthony Beauvillier then stole the puck and scored 1:08 into overtime as the Islanders rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Wednesday night to force a deciding Game 7 in their Stanley Cup semifinal series.
“We knew we had a lot of time on the clock still," star center Mathew Barzal said. "Just stuck with it and fortunate enough to get two goals and tie it up, and obviously win in overtime.”
Jordan Eberle and Scott Mayfield also scored for the Islanders, with Barzal getting assists on both. Semyon Varlamov finished with 22 saves. It was a big response after an 8-0 loss in Tampa in Game 5 on Monday night.
“We knew we were going to bounce back,” Beauvillier said. “Even going down 2-0, I thought we were still on top of our game. We were having good shifts and we just stuck with it. Obviously a huge character win.”
Beauvillier got his stick on the puck to pick off Blake Coleman's pass for Jan Rutta in the right circle, gathered it and quickly beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on the first shot on goal of the extra period. It was Beauvillier's first career playoff overtime goal, and his first score since Game 1 of the second round against Boston.
With this possibly the final game at Nassau Coliseum as the Islanders plan to move into their new home at UBS Arena next season, fans showered the ice with beer cans and bottles in celebration.
“I've never seen anything like that,” Barzal said. “A little dangerous, but you don't see that too often, so we embraced it. That's the Islanders faithful — they're passionate, they get excited, and it was good stuff.”
Brayden Point scored for the ninth straight game and Anthony Cirelli had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who lost playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov (27 points) to an apparent injury early in the first period. Vasilevskiy stopped 25 shots.
“We battled hard, we were short from the beginning,” Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos said. “We played a hell of a game to get up 2-0. We knew they were going to push. It’s two good teams going at it at the best time of the year. For the most part, I thought we played pretty solid. ... We didn’t get the job done tonight, but we get to go back in front of our fans and get the job done there.”
Game 7 is Friday night in Tampa, Florida.
Trailing 2-1, the Islanders came out strong to start the third, getting the first seven shots of the period. Mayfield tied at 2 with 8:44 left when he got a pass from Barzal, skated into the right circle and beat Vasilevskiy with a shot that went in off the crossbar.
“We found a way to win, which is huge for us," Beauvillier said. "Everyone's happy and we get to go to Tampa for Game 7.”
Vasilevskiy had a nice glove save on Barzal two minutes into the second to preserve Tampa Bay’s 1-0 lead.
Cal Clutterbuck engaged in some pushing and shoving with Tyler Johnson and Blake Coleman, drawing a roughing penalty to put Tampa Bay on the power play 6 1/2 minutes into the second.
The advantage lasted a minute as Victor Hedman was called for tripping and then Mikhail Sergachev was whistled for interference 45 seconds apart. The Islanders managed just one shot during the 5-on-3, and one on the remaining advantage.
Cirelli made it 2-0 with 7:24 left in the second on a breakaway as he brought the puck up the left side and beat Varlamov between the legs for his fourth of the postseason.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard less than two minutes later as Barzal brought the puck up the middle of the ice and passed it off to Eberle, who skated in a put backhander past Vasilevskiy with 5:38 remaining.
Tempers flared at the second-period buzzer as Stamkos and Mayfield were involved in some pushing and shoving. Mayfield and Coleman received roughing penalties.
The Islanders outshot the Lightning 7-6 in a tightly played first period. Point got the Lightning on the scoreboard with a backhander from the left side off a rebound of a shot by Cirelli, taking Kucherov’s spot on the top line, for his league-best 14th of the playoffs. His streak is one shy of the NHL record set by Reggie Leach in 1976.
The Islanders improved to 8-2 all-time when facing elimination at home in Game 6 of a postseason series
Cirelli scored Tampa Bay’s 12th consecutive goal dating to the third period of Game 4 on Saturday night. The Lightning scored twice in that period in a 3-2 loss and then won 8-0 in Game 5 on Monday night. The Islanders scored the last three in this one to even the series.
It was the first time in the series the team that scored first didn’t win. The Islanders improved to 6-6 this postseason when giving up the first goal. The Lightning fell to 11-2 when scoring first.
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