The New York Islanders live to see another day in the NHL bubble.
A hard-fought, defensive battle that saw only 2 goals scored after 90+ minutes of play, Islanders forward Jordan Eberle finally ended the game with 7:30 remaining in the second overtime off of a miscue by Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk.
After a faceoff in the Islanders zone was won by Tampa Bay, Shattenkirk fanned on a shot from the blue line, which was picked up by Islanders captain Anders Lee and bounced off the boards past Shattenkirk to start a 2 on 1 for the Islanders.
Enter Jordan Eberle.
Eberle raced down the right wing, with only Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev in between him and his captain. Lee made no mistake and gave Eberle a perfect pass from the top of the offensive circle, to which Eberle one-timed past a sprawling Andrei Vasilevskiy to seal the deal for the team from Long Island.
A dramatic 2-1 Game 5 victory for the Islanders, and suddenly they are back in the series. The Lightning now lead the series 3 games to 2, with Game 6 set for Thursday night at 8pm EST.
The game was no short of excitement in the extra frames, and Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov had a glorious chance to send his team to the Stanley Cup Finals about 5 minutes prior to Eberle’s winning goal, but Kucherov missed a wide open net off the rebound of an Anthony Cirelli shot.
Ryan Pulock got the Islanders on the board with the game’s first goal, on the power play at the 15:41 mark of the first period. Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman then answered back with his 8th goal and 14th point of the postseason, getting the puck past Semyon Varlamov four minutes in to the second period.
That is all the scoring the game would see until Eberle’s game-winning goal, as both team’s buckled down defensively. The Tampa Bay Lightning were eager to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2015; the Islanders desperate to force a Game 6.
The Lightning were short handed on forward throughout the game, as they were without star forward Brayden Point who suffered an injury in Game 4. Team captain Steven Stamkos is not close to returning from his injury sustained during round-robin play.
In the end it was the Islanders that won the battle, and they still have a ton of work to do in order to win the war.
But the Lightning are hungry and it won’t come easy. With arguably the best coach in the league in Barry Trotz, the Islanders are going to have to be hungrier.
Featured photo courtesy of TSN.ca
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