The Islanders trailed for nearly the entire game, tied it up with roughly 5 ½ minutes left in regulation and forced overtime. But, sometimes, no matter how many character plays a team makes, it will still fall short of the storybook comeback.
Such was the case Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum, when the Bruins’ Brad Marchand scored 3:36 into overtime to hand the Islanders a 2-1 loss in Game 3.
In the second consecutive overtime game between the teams, the Islanders dominated for a majority of the extra period, pouring on five shots that Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had to stop. Marchand then flew down the left side and sniped one through Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov off a sharp angle, giving Boston a 2-1 edge in the second-round series.
If there was a time for Mathew Barzal to score his first goal of the postseason, the game-tying tally with 5 ½ minutes left in regulation of a swing Game 3 to force overtime was a pretty poetic script despite the loss.
For 54 minutes, following Bruins second-line winger Craig Smith’s goal in the opening frame, it was a stare-down between the goaltenders.
Rask was remarkable, stifling every Islander on his doorstep and positioning himself perfectly on every rush. He finished with 28 saves on 29 shots to improve to 6-2 this postseason.
Aside from the giving up the goal to Smith just under six minutes into the game, Varlamov kept it a one-goal game until Barzal’s game-tying score late in the third. Toward the end of the second period, the Russian netminder made a crucial pad save on Bruins center David Krejci before denying Nick Ritchie in the crease on the way to a 39-save night.
Particularly in the middle frame, the Islanders had an abundance of opportunities to even the score, but the Bruins continued to clog the lanes and body any blue and orange sweater off the puck.
There were times when the Isles were too cute with their passes. There were times when they made too many passes. There were also plenty of times when the Bruins were simply anticipating each pass.
Despite little action from both squads in the first period, the Bruins emerged with a 1-0 lead. Smith, who was back in the lineup after missing Game 2 with a lower-body injury, took a slick feed from Taylor Hall and beat Varlamov high glove.
Rask was sharp from puck drop, denying Anthony Beauvillier on a breakaway with his blocker and tracking long shots from the top of the zone well.