ELMONT, N.Y. — The New York Islanders were starving for a power play in Game 2, then famished for a man-advantage tally in Game 3. They finally got it — and it triggered an avalanche.
Kyle Palmieri tipped home a Sebastian Aho shot on the power play with 3:51 to go in regulation to break a 1-1 tie and record the game-winner as the Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Friday night at UBS Arena to pull back their series deficit to 2-1.
“It was big,” Palmieri said. “We had a couple of good looks, a couple of bounces that just went wide and bounced over, things like that. We just had to stick with it and found a way to come through at the end there.”
It was the first of a historic binge of goals. The Islanders set an NHL postseason record by scoring four goals in 2:18 between Palmieri’s goal and the final tally of the barrage with 1:33 to go in regulation. Matt Martin put the game away with a wrister that beat Carolina netminder Antti Raanta to blow the roof off the building, which was hosting its first-ever playoff game. For good measure, Scott Mayfield provided an empty netter with 1:49 to go before Anders Lee tipped in a Casey Cizikas shot 16 seconds later.
“We knew that things were coming if we stuck with it and continued to play the right way,” Lee said. “I thought we did a phenomenal job of that.”
As they have been all season, the Islanders were hampered for most of the night by an ineffective power play that finally got some chances after Game 2 in which Carolina had a 6-0 edge in the special-teams department. A second-period shorthanded goal by Jesper Fast with 3:04 to go in the second period canceled out Cizikas’ opener for the Islanders, which was scored 4:07 earlier.
“We responded after the end of the second there,” Lee said. “Tough break but at the end of the day, it was a 1-1 game. So let’s go after it, let’s get it.”
Going 0-for-their-first-3 on the night, they did next to nothing for most of their time up a man, including a vital two minutes midway through the third period after a Jalen Chatfield hook was called on Hudson Fasching.
The Islanders had to kill three penalties of their own on Friday night with two of them coming in quick succession during the first nine minutes of the second period. Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin, who stopped 30 of 31 shots, faced just three Hurricanes power-play attempts on the night.
“The guys were committed and they did a good job,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “WE had some good blocked shots, our goaltender was good when he had to be. They have a goo power play, they’ve got some different looks over there so we have to continue to try and match what they have.”
For the first time this series, the Islanders didn’t concede an early goal to get out of the first period on scoreless, even terms. Yet the controlling play that often comes with a postseason game at home eluded them, maintained by Carolina’s dominance in the face-off circle where they won 15 of the first 22 draws.
Despite being outshot 15-7 in the opening 20 minutes, the Islanders had a couple of high-danger opportunities that they couldn’t convert — most notably when a rebound off a Mathew Barzal wrister late in the period came right to Lee with Raanta out of position. Trying to get his shot back across from where the netminder was sliding from his left post to his right, the Islanders’ captain’s shot instead sailed well wide of the net.
The Islanders appeared as though they were going to put the game in a stranglehold when Cizikas put them in front at the 12:49 mark of the second period. After Ryan Pulock kept in a clear attempt by Derek Stepan, he sent a backhanded pass to an open Cizikas, who chipped his one-timer into the top of the net.
“I can’t take too much credit because that pass from Pulockwas unbelievable,” Cizikas said. “I didn’t even think he saw me but he made a beautiful pass and I was just able to get it over the goalie’s shoulder.”
The ensuing three minutes saw the most dominant hockey the Islanders played in quite some time, overwhelming the Hurricanes in their own zone. Fasching nearly one-timed a close-range chance home as it bounced behind Raanta, but a sliding Seth Jarvis swatted the puck with his glove away from danger before it could completely cross the goal line.
The Islanders earned their second power play of the night just seconds after, but their ineptitude on the man advantage bit them yet again. A turnover from Barzal sent Jordan Staal on his way leading a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. He fed Fast — the overtime hero for Carolina in Game 2 — who snuck a wrister under the arm of Sorokin to tie it up with 3:04 remaining in the period.
In the final 20 minutes, though, the Islanders dominated play mostly in part to three Hurricanes penalties taken, outshooting their opponents 17-7.
The Islanders now have a chance to tie the series up at two games apiece on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET) at UBS Arena.
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