UNIONDALE, NY–Game Three was one of best Islanders matchups played in 2013, not to mention downright thrilling. Playoff hockey returned to the Nassau Coliseum for the first time in six years with much spirited anticipation and raucousness, and although the end-result was a bitter one, Islander fans everywhere have much of which to be proud; and truth be told, this evening’s contest and crowd will surely equal this past Sunday’s atmosphere.
The New York Islanders fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime by the final score of 5-4. In what was a game marked by charged emotion, the Islanders fed off the boisterous Coliseum-faithful by scoring two early goals, only to allow four unanswered goals in relative quick succession, but then to come back and tie the score at four in the third. Brian Strait‘s ‘controversial’ overtime penalty involving Sidney Crosby led to the Chris Kunitz’ overtime-winner, giving the Penguins the 2-1 lead in the series.
Fortunately for New York fans, the Isles only lost the battle and not the war. For the second straight game, the Islanders were the better hockey team. Behind their gritty and relentless play, the Islanders made their point: we’re not a speed bump. The Islanders will give the Penguins more than a run for their money, for these Islanders will not worry until they have lost their fourth game of the series.
John Tavares, the burgeoning Kyle Okposo, and the rest of the New York Islanders squad will be looking to take this one from Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins. Evgeni Nabokov (.836 SV % and 4.77 GAA) will get the start tonight, and will have to play better if the Islanders want to bring this series back to Long Island.
The mantra for the Isles tonight: Match the intensity of Game Three!
If the New York Islanders play the aggressive and formidable hockey they did on Sunday afternoon, they aren’t losing many games. They won the physical battle. They consistently forced Pittsburgh to giveaway the puck (19 giveaways Game Three), even dictating 5-on-5 play, outscoring the Penguins 4-2, and outshooting the Penguins 36-25, including a 13-3 shots on goal advantage in the third period. Despite the end result, Isles’ fans have to believe this New York team will only build off of their overtime loss.
The key to this one, though, will be staying out of the penalty box, or at least playing better on the penalty kill. The Islanders have allowed six power-play goals on thirteen chances this postseason, giving them the worst penalty kill in the 2013 playoffs. Unfortunately, the Isles may play the better overall hockey game, but power-play goals count the same. The Islanders allowed three on five chances on Sunday, giving them nothing to show for Game Three.
The Islanders are ready. Islanders’ fans are ready. Game Four is tonight, and we will be looking to bring the noise back to the Coliseum for the second time this week. An Isles’ win on home ice guarantees the series to return to the Coliseum for at least more game.
PROJECTED LINE UP:
12 Bailey – 91 Tavares – 24 Boyes
26 Moulson – 51 Nielsen – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin
41 Ullstrom – 10 Aucoin – 13 McDonald
3 Hamonic – 47 MacDonald
11 Visnovsky – 7 Carkner
2 Streit – 37 Strait