The New York Islanders grabbed a 2-1 series lead in the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals on John Tavares' overtime goal for a 2-1 win on April 19.
The New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals, 2-1, in overtime on April 19 in their 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.
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Islanders center and team captain John Tavares scored just 15 seconds into the overtime period to propel his team to a 2-1 series lead, per Cory Wright of the Islanders' official website.
After Nikolay Kumelin directed Nick Leddy's shot, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stuffed it but sent the puck Tavares' way. The Islanders captain knocked it in from the side of the net to the delight of the sellout crowd at Nassau Coliseum, per Wright.
"As soon as I saw Leddy get it at the point, I just thought get to the net and beat my guy," Tavares told Wright on Sunday. "The puck came to me and I was able to beat Holtby back to the post."
After a scoreless first period, both teams played at a relatively slow pace at the onset of the second. However, the action picked up at the halfway mark of the period when Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky scored when his shot bounced off Kyle Okposo's shin guard to open up a 1-0 lead, per the Islanders' official website.
Wright then describes the ensuing moments in the second period:
"The Islanders hemmed the Capitals in their zone for the better part of the next five minutes. Thomas Hickey circled the net and just put a backhand wide, while Ryan Strome nearly beat Holtby with a hard slap shot blocker side.
"The momentum was finally stopped by a high-sticking minor, but Johnny Boychuk sent the Islanders into the intermission on a high. Alex Ovechkin sidestepped on a sliding Boychuk on the penalty kill, but the Islanders defenseman helicoptered his stick along the ice to knock the puck away from Washington's captain with time expiring in the period."
Washington fought back, outshooting New York, 11-3, to begin the third period. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom's wrist shot beat Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak to knot the count at 1 apiece, per NHL.com.
"After they scored that goal to tie it up, we got back to playing on our toes and just wanted to continue to do that," Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo told The New York Times' Allan Kreda after the game. "We were confident we were going to win the game."
Backstrom's equalizer eventually set the stage for Tavares' overtime heroics.
Kreda notes the last time the Islanders scored an overtime playoff goal was David Volek's series-clinching one in the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Your best players have to be your best players," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano told The New York Times. "We played hard, and it was an exciting game. Today was one of our better games for sure."
Holtby finished with 42 saves while Halak wound up with 24, with three of those on Washington forward and 2014-15 Hart Memorial Trophy candidate Alexander Ovechkin, per Wright.
Game 4 is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET faceoff at New York's Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, April 21.
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