Tavares scores early in OT in Isles' 2-1 win over Caps
Islanders captain John Tavares scored 15 seconds into overtime to lift New York to a 2-1 win in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series over the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders, who took a 2-1 series lead.
The game was decided quickly in the extra period, and after the Islanders allowed the Capitals to tie the game on Nicklas Backstrom's goal with 6:06 remaining in the third.
In overtime, Nikolay Kulemin's initial shot was stopped by Braden Holtby, who then tried to direct the rebound into the right corner. The puck went to Tavares, who shoveled it in before Holtby could cover the right post.
Game 4 is at Long Island on Tuesday.
With the crowd chanting "MVP! MVP!" Tavares became the first Islanders player to score an overtime goal in the playoffs since David Volek sealed a Game 7 second-round 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on May 14, 1993. New York had lost its previous six overtime playoff games.
And the Islanders won it after nearly blowing a lead for the second straight game following a 4-3 loss at Washington on Friday. The Capitals scored three straight goals to overcome a 3-1 second-period deficit.
On Sunday, the Islanders were outshooting the Capitals 33-13 through 40 minutes, and went ahead on Okposo's goal 12:37 into the second period. Okposo scored by deflecting in Lubomir Visnovsky's shot from the top of the right circle.
New York then spent much of the third period on its heels. Washington capitalized on Backstrom's goal with 6:06 remaining.
Circling around the top to the high slot and waiting for a crowd to develop in front, Backstrom snapped a riser that banked in off the crossbar. Alex Ovechkin was in front providing a screen.
The goal came while the Capitals were generating plenty of pressure. And it came 20 seconds after Washington's Mike Green sneaked in from the right point and had an open side of the net to shoot at, but fired the puck directly into goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was late getting across.
The Islanders had plenty of the jump they showed in Game 1 at Washington on Wednesday, when they rolled to a 4-1 win.
They generated speed through the neutral zone and forechecked relentlessly. New York had a 10-0 edge in shots before Washington registered its first shot a little over eight minutes in.
That was a switch from Game 2, in which the Capitals outshot the Islanders 30-14 over the final two periods.
Holtby stopped 40 shots and showed no effects of an illness that forced him to miss Game 2. And the Capitals regular-season workhorse was busy from the start.
His best save came five minutes in, when Holtby kicked away Johnny Boychuk's shot from the right point, and then recovered in time to stop Josh Bailey attempting to convert the rebound in close.
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was rocking an hour before the pre-game skate, with many fans chanting, cheering and booing anyone with a Capitals jersey. Even TV broadcaster Pierre McGuire got a loud cheer to greet him as he made his way along the ice to the bench.
This is the Isles final season on Long Island, with the franchise moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Before the game, the team had orange towels placed on each seat with the words, "Let's Make History. One More Time," printed on them.
One fan was spotted holding up a placard which read: "The old barn will stay open till Isles win the Cup."
The franchise's once-proud history is well documented with the number of banners hanging from the rafters honoring former stars, and the four Stanley Cup titles the Islanders won from 1980-83.
NOTES: Capitals C Eric Fehr did not return after sustaining what the team called an upper body injury three minutes after being checked by Okposo left of the Capitals net. ... After filling in for Holtby in Game 2, rookie goalie Philipp Grubauer served as the backup, ahead of Justin Peters. Coach Barry Trotz based the decision on Grubauer having had more work over the past few months. ... Islanders coach Jack Capuano made one roster switch, playing Tyler Kennedy and benching Michael Grabner.
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