It was a close affair in game three between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders, but like the previous two meetings, it ended with a win for the Islanders after a Mathew Barzal overtime winner. It was a game where both goaltenders stood on their heads. With the win, the Islanders take a 3-0 series lead and are cruising towards the second round. The Capitals will have to pull off the near-impossible if they don’t want to have yet another early exit from the playoffs.
Captain Lee Strikes Again
The importance of game three was clear to see at the start of the game. The Islanders having the chance to almost win the series after only three games. Washington was fighting to get back into the series. This meant a much slower start than the last game, where Alexander Ovechkin struck after less than a minute.
The first real chance of the game came after eight minutes, where Derick Brassard found room in the slot. He sent a quick shot towards the net, but Braden Holtby made himself big and made the save. The Islanders soon afterward got the chance on the powerplay but failed to capitalize on the man advantage.
The breakthrough finally came after 15 minutes of the period and it was the Islanders who struck first. Captain Anders Lee found space after a spectacular pass by Adam Pelech for the redirect. Moments prior to this Brock Nelson had a glorious chance but hit the post. However, he kept the play alive which led to the goal that gave the Islanders the lead going into the second period.
Missed Chances Proved Costly
The second period began fast and furious. Within the first minute, both teams had chances on goal, only to be stopped by the netminders. First when Ryan Pulock found space in the middle of the ice, and only a block from Tom Wilson prevented a dangerous shot on goal. Later it was Lars Eller who almost had an identical chance, but with the same result.
After a hectic start to the period, the Islanders started getting control of the game and created some major chances to double their lead. First when Barzal found space near the crease only to redirect the puck just over the bar, and later when Jean-Gabriel Pageau had the chance on a breakaway. However, his backhander was stopped by Holtby.
Chances that would come back to haunt the Islanders soon after. During a powerplay, John Carlson found Evgeny Kuznetsov on the right side. With a perfect shot from the Russian going right over the shoulder of Semyon Varlamov for the tying goal.
This gave the Capitals life and Wilson almost had the go-ahead goal after a greasy play in front of the net. A great tip was turned away by Varlamov and left a great rebound that once again was denied by the Islanders goalie. Next up was Eller on a semi breakaway, but he was also shut down by Varlamov.
It was turning into a shooting gallery against Varlamov and he had even more work to do, during an Islanders powerplay. A great pass by Eller setup up Wilson for the breakaway, but Varlamov continued to stand on his head and made another wonderful stop.
Late on the powerplay, Cal Clutterbuck almost made it 2-1. A strong pass found him open on the left for a wide-open shot. His shot, however, was saved by Holtby, who like Varlamov was having a great game.
Lee almost had his second goal of the game late in the period after a perfect cross-ice pass by Barzal, however, Holtby got across to deny the Islanders captain. Close but once again a good save from Holtby to keep the game tied heading into the third period.
Third Period Stalemate
After a very cautious start from both teams, the game finally found its first chance. A clumsy interfering’s minor to Matt Martin gave the Capitals a great chance to take the lead in the game. After a lot of nothing, Ovechkin finally found space in his office. However, he fanned on the shot and it went just wide of the net.
Overall, it was the Capitals who had the best start to the period, so the Islanders had to be sharp when a chance presented itself. A slashing penalty to Wilson offered such a chance for the Islanders. Despite great puck movement and a few good chances for Nelson and Josh Bailey, the puck stayed out of Holtby’s net.
The game slowed down a little with both teams very aware of just how important the next goal could be. Chances became a rarity and, only the odd bounce created a chance. One of those almost created an own goal by Dmitry Orlov, as a pass went off his stick towards goal. Once again, Holtby stood tall and made the save.
With three minutes left in the game, the Islanders almost had the game-winning goal. A three on two was perfectly executed, but Orlov made a heroic block to keep the game tied at one. The Islanders were the better team near the end of the period, but the puck stayed out. This meant the game was heading to overtime.
Vrana Missed, Barzal Didn’t In Overtime
A very tight start, due to the pressure with no real chances to speak of. It was clear that it would take a broken play to get the game’s first chance in this overtime period. This chance came when a block from Jakub Vrana, gave him a breakaway. He first tried to go five-hole on Varlamov but was shut down by the Russian netminder. The chance was far from over though as the rebound ended up on Vrana’s stick. With the game on his stick, he almost got it lifted above the left pad of Varlamov, who once again pulled off highway robbery.
This proved devastating for the Capitals as seconds later Jordan Eberle found Barzal behind the Capital’s defense. Barzal kept his foot on the blueline and managed to stay onside and was in for a breakaway of his own. Unlike Vrana, who tried to go five-hole, Barzal went for the deke, and it worked perfectly. Pulling the puck from the right to the left and past Holtby into the empty net. The goal gives the Islanders a 3-0 lead in the series and brings them one step closer to the second round.
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