2. Islanders Gave Themselves a Chance
Seated to Mat Barzal’s left, Jordan Eberle stated in the Islanders post-game press conference that the message around the team all day was to “give ourselves a chance.” Keep it close, play within yourself, all the little things the Islanders failed to do in Game Five they succeeded at in Game Six.
They did give themselves a chance, even if it didn’t always look as bright and jubilant as when the night ended. Trailing 2-0 with under six minutes remaining the second period, it felt like the Isles might’ve fallen too far back against a Tampa team who have played so well with the lead this series.
But then, Eberle gives the team a chance. Entering the offensive zone behind Barzal, Ebs was dished a clean pass which he took to his backhand and flung past Vasilevskiy to make it a 2-1 score with nearly half a game still left to play.
In the end, that was the chance they needed. New York came out looking absolutely desperate in the third period. They threw everything they could at Tampa’s goal, trying anything to slam home the puck that would draw them even.
Even then, things didn’t look great. The Isles fanned or otherwise failed to capitalize on a number of golden opportunities to even the score, and with just under nine minutes left in regulation, it felt like they might rue those chances gone awry.
Yet they still kept at it. They just kept pounding. Not making silly mistakes or errors that would potentially give Tampa a shot at widening the lead again, but just giving themselves a chance. Scott Mayfield was the one who ended up capitalizing on that chance, by roofing a puck from an awkward angle over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder.
Later, the New York penalty kill gave their team a chance with Matt Martin off to the penalty box for a high-sticking call that the referees failed to notice Pat Maroon had inflicted on himself by lifting Martin’s stick into his own face. Against a ruthlessly efficient Tampa power-play, the Isles’ PK was great, and the game continued on tied. They gave themselves a chance.
When Beauvillier scored his OT winner, it was Jordan Eberle, the man who spoke about his team just giving themselves a chance, the same one who kept them close enough to make Beau’s game-winner possible, who was the first to his feet and the first to jump the boards off the Islander bench to celebrate with his teammates.