After Game 2 slipped through their fingers with Nikita Kucherov‘s goal in the dying seconds, the Islanders faced another nightmare scenario in Game 3. Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period, two Lightning goals made it a 3-3 tie in Game 3, and left Barry Trotz shaking his head in disgust and disbelief.
But, as they’ve done many times during this impressive playoff run, the Islanders answered that challenge.
Thanks to a splendid pass by Anthony Beauvillier and a tricky shot by Brock Nelson, the Isles restored their lead with a 4-3 goal, and then Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored an empty-netter (with some nasty chippiness, including from Kucherov, to follow).
The Islanders went from facing a 3-0 deficit to dealing with a much more manageable 2-1 series lead for Tampa Bay.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t parse words after what was clearly a frustrating loss.
“We were our own worst enemy,” Cooper said. “There’s so many good things that our team did, but it’s such a tough league to win in, and we handed that one to them. That was gift wrapped.”
It’s unclear if Brayden Point will return for Game 4, as he left Game 2 early and didn’t play in Game 3. After serving a one-game suspension, Alex Killorn should give the Bolts a much-needed boost, but they’re continuing to need to dig deep during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So far this postseason, the Lightning are 3-0 after a loss. We’ll either see them match the Stars’ 3-1 series lead in the 2020 Western Conference Final, or see this series go tied 2-2 after Game 4.