The Islanders are now 0-3 on their first attempts at closing out a series this postseason.
With an opportunity to send the Flyers packing after taking a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Islanders fell in overtime 4-3 in Game 5 as Philadelphia managed to keep its season alive behind an OT goal from Scott Laughton on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Heading into the third period down 2-1, the Islanders failed to generate anything on an early power play and then gave up what appeared to be a backbreaking goal to Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen less than five minutes into the final period.
Things were looking bleak as the Islanders couldn’t even register a shot on goal through the first seven minutes, but they kept pulling on the rope, as the players like to say. It was Brock Nelson who pumped some life back into his team after sniping one over Flyers goalie Carter Hart’s glove to pull the Islanders within one with just under five minutes left in regulation.
After a backhanded wrap-around pass by Cal Clutterbuck, Derick Brassard buried his first goal of the playoffs to tie it 3-3 at 17:19 and ultimately force overtime.
The Islanders held their breath after Matt Martin was called for tripping Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg at 7:55 of OT, but a defensive clinic from Andy Greene and an effective penalty kill kept the game going before Laughton’s deflection off a shot by Ivan Provorov found the back of the net through traffic to win it.
Game 6 will be Thursday.
Both goaltenders traded highlight-reel saves early in the overtime, as Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov finished the game with saves on 28 of the 32 shots he faced while Hart made 29 saves.
Varlamov had to come up with four quick saves in the game’s opening five minutes and finished the first period with 11. The Islanders were held to just four shots on goal, although the ice didn’t seem as lopsided as the stats suggested.
A turnover by Ryan Pulock in the Islanders’ zone resulted in two dangerous chances for Kevin Hayes and Tyler Pitlick that Varlamov had to turn aside just over three minutes in. The Islanders earned a power play after Travis Konecny was called for holding at 12:00, but Nelson took an interference penalty to negate the man-advantage.
Once four-on-four play expired and the Flyers were on the power play, Sean Couturier hit iron on their first rush. The Islanders’ best chance came on a three-on-one at 15:41, but Hart was aggressive and got his skate under J-G Pageau’s shot.
Flyers fourth-line winger Derek Grant was called for tripping with 24.2 seconds left in the first, allowing the Islanders to start the second on the power play. As traffic built in front of the Flyers’ net, Josh Bailey tucked one in behind Hart to put the Isles up 1-0.
Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood. Varlamov then came up with a pad save on Laughton’s shot from the slot at 5:28 to preserve the lead.
Jordan Eberle nearly made it 2-0 after intercepting a clearing attempt by the Flyers and carrying it in himself but Hart stifled the play.
Toward the end of the second, Claude Giroux broke through with his first goal of the playoffs with a tip of a shot from Philippe Myers to knot the score 1-1 at 15:45. Just over three minutes later, a Flyers’ odd-man rush ended with James van Riemsdyk notching his first goal of the playoffs to lift Philadelphia up 2-1.
Varlamov had a close call on a shot from Hayes that hovered over the goal line shortly after the Flyers’ go-ahead tally, but after a long review referees determined the puck never crossed.
Mathew Barzal took a high stick to the face at the end of the third period and did not return to the Islanders bench for overtime.