Islanders fall to Penguins in crucial Game 3 as rally falls short

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In all three games this series, the Islanders trailed the Penguins heading into the final 20 minutes. The deficit was two goals this time around, the largest the Islanders had faced.

Despite two mediocre periods, the Islanders kept their heads in it and potted three goals in the final frame, tying the game up twice. But Penguins fourth-line winger Brandon Tanev had the last word, batting the puck out of midair with roughly 3 ½ minutes left in regulation to hand the Islanders a 5-4 loss in Game 3 at Nassau Coliseum.

The Penguins have a 2-1 series lead.

Just over a minute after Anthony Beauvillier’s power-play goal knotted the game at 3-3, Penguins forward Jeff Carter answered on the other end with his second goal of the game. The back-and-forth play continued, with Cal Clutterbuck registering his second of the period after the puck bounced in off his body to make it 4-4.

But the Penguins came out on top, with Tanev swatting in the game-winner at 16:24.

Just over three minutes into the third, Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made a save on defenseman Scott Mayfield, but Clutterbuck cleaned it up to make it a one-goal game. The Islanders made a push, which led to a just-jam-it-in sequence on Jarry that the Penguins didn’t appreciate. A brouhaha broke out in the corner, which landed five players from each team in the penalty box.

The Isles emerged with a power play after Jake Guentzel slashed Kyle Palmieri after everybody had been separated. Beauvillier made quick work of the man-advantage, sweeping the puck in past Jarry to make it a 3-3 game.

It was another sluggish start for the Islanders, who struggled to control their passes and repeatedly came out on the wrong end of puck battles. The Penguins were simply faster to the puck, while dominating in the neutral zone for a majority of the night.

Even when Mayfield evened the score at 1-1 just over halfway through the second period, the Penguins quickly extinguished any pep the Islanders could’ve had. After an effortless transition up the ice 2 ½ minutes later, Carter regained the lead for Pittsburgh with a shot to the far post from the right circle.

Then the Penguins had their way in the offensive zone, which culminated in Jason Zucker skating in unscathed and going top shelf on Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov for the 3-1 lead with 1:57 left in the middle frame.

The Coliseum had a vaccinated section that looked (and sounded) like pre-pandemic times. But the crowd was silenced rather quickly, when Penguins left winger Zach Aston-Reese got a tip on Kris Letang’s shot for another soft goal let in by Varlamov to start the game.

Varlamov shook it off, and so did the rest of the Islanders after spending more than half of the period in their defensive zone. The best shift of the first came from the second line late in the opening frame, with Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey keeping it in the Penguins’ zone, but Pittsburgh got a body in front of everything.

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