Once again the New York Islanders found themselves off to a slow start in Game 3 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. Going into both the second and third periods in Game 3, the Isles found themselves chasing the lead at the start of each period. When push came to shove in the third period, the boys finally kicked it into high gear.
Cal Clutterbuck scored his first goal of the game just over seven minutes into the third period. Minutes later, a line brawl saw all 10 skaters on the ice for both teams go to the penalty box, with an extra two minutes on Jake Gunetzel for slashing. A powerplay goal by Anthony Beauvillier tied things up, however, another goal by Pittsburgh gave them the lead once more. The whole period was a back and forth battle, with the Islanders tying the game and Penguins quickly responding. Clutterbuck scored his second of the night to tie the game at four, however, it only lasted about two and half minutes until Brandon Tanev batted the puck in for Pittsburgh’s winning goal.
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 21, 2021
Despite having lost Game 3, the third period was a win for the Islanders because they finally showcased the type of team that they are. They’re a skilled group that has a unique ability to all go cold at the same time. Once they started to crash the net and move the puck around, they were able to score three goals in the third period, the kind of grindy goals we’re used to seeing.
Throughout the game, there were a few lone opportunities by Mathew Barzal, who managed to create a couple of scoring chances, and Beauvillier sprung on a breakaway despite shooting wide. However, it’s apparent that the Islanders niche is to get bodies in front to try to create a rebound opportunity or score via a deflection.
If the Islanders can manage an early lead rather than continue to chase games, they should see more consistency in their game, while utilizing Barry Trotz’s system to keep the Penguins off the scoresheet. Barzel stated that it’s a 60-minute game and they need to show a 60-minute effort.
“Well this is playoff hockey, the game doesn’t get won the first period. We obviously would like to have a lead, but we’re playing a good team so it’s going to be a fight for sixty minutes.” Barzal stated in an interview on MSG Network.
Come Saturday, it is going to be another close game no doubt. The Islanders can’t afford to get off to a slow start, and then pick up the pace in the middle of the second, and attempt a come back in the third to overtake Pittsburgh. Unless they can transition how they played in the third to the beginning of the next game, it’ll be more of the same as what we saw in the first three tilts. With plenty on the line in Game 4, expect to see a sense of urgency from the Islanders, as a Penguins win leaves Trotz and co. one game from elimination in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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