John Tavares' quick overtime goal lifts Islanders over Capitals in Game 3

Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The New York Islanders wasted little time in grabbing a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 3 Sunday afternoon. They only needed 15 seconds of overtime.

John Tavares’ goal in the extra period helped give the Islanders a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Tuesday night.

“I didn’t have much room,” said Tavares, who admitted the anticipation ahead of Sunday’s game caused him a restless night of sleep. “I recognized that [Braden] Holby wasn’t quite on his post and I was just hoping it got through him, and it did.”

After being unable to hold back the Islanders through 40 minutes and behind in shots 33-13, the Capitals pushed in the third and were rewarded. Washington was finally able to get traffic in front of Jaroslav Halak, allowing Nicklas Backstrom’s shot to get through and tie the game with 6:06 to go.

In overtime, Tavares won the opening face-off, and after Johnny Boychuk fired the puck on net, Holby left it for John Carlson, who then sent the puck up the boards before it was kept in the zone by Nick Leddy. Nikolay Kulemin then re-directed Leddy’s pass on goal and the puck bounced around before Tavares got his stick on it from a tough angle:

“We have to make a better play,” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz. “There’s no need to throw it up the wall. We had options, just didn’t pick a good one.”

Striking early was key for the Islanders, especially considering the way the Capitals were slowly tilting the game in their favor.  

“I think everybody’s surprised,” said Boychuk. "There’s probably people still trying to get some popcorn or something like that in the stands.”

Joked Tavares: “Well, it was an early game so we had all day if we needed [to keep playing].”

It was an important bounceback win for the Islanders after blowing a 3-1 lead and losing Game 2 Friday night. They fed off the energy of a raucous, sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd that began chanting “Let’s Go Islanders” an hour before the players even stepped on the ice. 

It carried over into the start of the game when New York was peppering Holtby with the first 10 shots of the game and pinning Washington in their own zone for long stretches. The Capitals didn’t get a shot on Halak until 7:52 of the first period. 

The noise level of both buildings has been a subject in the last 24 hours. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin said on Saturday he didn’t think Nassau Coliseum would be as loud as Verizon Center. The 16,170 in the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike answered that from the beginning of the game, even chanting, “Can You Hear Us?” several times, something Capitals fans remember from 2011.

“It was huge,” said Kyle Okposo, who scored the game’s opening goal, of the crowd. “It was a little bit louder than the Verizon Center, I think. 

“We’ll take the atmosphere and try and use it to our advantage.”

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