Semyon Varlamov carries New York Islanders to Game 5 victory, avoiding elimination

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Yanni Gourde (37) is stopped by New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second overtime in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference final, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo by Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP.

To be quite honest, the outcome of this game was a bit of a surprise. After the Islanders’ performance in Game 4, I thought for sure that the team was done for and would be knocked out by Tampa Bay on Tuesday. But this was a hard-fought game, and New York showed that they are still interested in trying to win the Eastern Conference Finals. The latest meeting between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning ended with a score of 2-1 going into  a second overtime.  

The first period of play saw the Islanders take the lead over Tampa Bay with only four minutes left. The goal was scored off a New York  power play, which has been historically weak this entire playoff series. With only 37 seconds left in the power play, Islanders’ center Mathew Barzal carried the puck down the right side of the ice against the boards into the Tampa Bay zone. After being pinned in by two Tampa Bay players, a backhanded pass was caught by Nick Leddy who set up a beautiful one-timer with Ryan Pulock. Pulock began charging a slap shot as soon as Leddy touched the puck and was able to rocket it deep into the net from behind the left faceoff circle.  

Tampa Bay did not wait too long to tie the game up in the second period. Four minutes in, Leddy cleared the puck from the Tampa Bay zone down by their net all the way across the ice. The puck was picked back up at the New York blue line by Blake Coleman, who carried it deep. In the right faceoff circle, Coleman took a light shot straight toward goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who easily kicked it out off his leg pad. Unfortunately for New York, the puck rebounded to Victor Hedman who was able to dump the puck straight in.  

The rest of the second period and the whole of the third saw no more scoring from either side. This continued into the entirety of the first overtime. Another goal wasn’t scored until well into the second overtime, when New York ultimately won the game with yet another one-timer. The play started with Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk attempting a slap shot but missing the puck almost entirely. The puck slid slowly in front of him, but was swatted to the boards by Matt Martin. The Islanders’ right winger charged past Shattenkirk to retrieve the puck just over the blue line and carry it deep into the Tampa Bay zone. In the left faceoff circle, he passed to linemate Jordan Eberle, who was able to score off of the pass due to Andrei Vasilevskiy being out of position. It was a classic one-timer and nice end to the play of the night.  

To put it lightly, the Islanders are in a rough position. Unlike their last victory over Tampa Bay, this game was far from a blowout performance. New York is going to have to play the best game of hockey they have all post season during their next meeting with Tampa Bay if they hope to make it into the Stanley Cup Finals.  

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