UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Brandon Tanev broke a tie with 3:36 remaining in the third period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Islanders 5-4 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.
Tanev gave Pittsburgh the lead when he swatted the puck out of the air past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov after Cal Clutterbuck‘s second goal of the third tied it 4-4 at 14:17.
“It wasn’t our best period, but at the end of the day, we found a way to win and that’s what matters,” Tanev said. “The guys came together as a group, and we battled through adversity and got the win.”
Jeff Carter scored twice, and Tristan Jarry made 26 saves for the Penguins, who are the No. 1 seed from the MassMutual East Division and have won two straight to lead the best-of-7 series. Evgeni Malkin had two assists after he missed Games 1 and 2 with an undisclosed injury.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster tonight … but we stuck with it,” Carter said. “It’s a resilient group. You give one up, you get right back on the horse and get working.”
Scott Mayfield had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, the No. 4 seed. Varlamov made 22 saves.
Teams that win Game 3 after a best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 are 223-107 (67.6 percent), including 3-1 in the first round last season. Game 4 will be played here Saturday (3 pm. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
“We’re disappointed, but as soon as that buzzer rang, it’s over with. It’s the playoffs,” New York center Mathew Barzal said. “You can’t dwell on anything, can’t hang your head for too long. Obviously, it stings a bit because that would have been a huge win to get, but we’re in a playoff series. It’s first to four (wins), so we’ll be all right.”
New York trailed 3-1 after the second period but tied it with goals 2:08 apart in the third. Clutterbuck cut it to 3-2 at 3:46 when he shot into an open net from just outside the crease, and Anthony Beauvillier made it 3-3 with a power-play goal at 5:54.
However, Clutterbuck was assessed a goalie interference penalty at 6:23, and Carter scored 37 seconds later on the ensuing power play from the left circle to give the Penguins a 4-3 lead.
Carter, a forward, also scored the game-winning goal in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win in Game 2 on Tuesday and has 12 goals in 17 games since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on April 12.
“To have the depth that we have at this point with ‘Carts’ in the middle, now we think we have a pretty balanced attack,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It just gives us that much more depth down the middle.”
Brock Nelson nearly tied it 34 seconds after Tanev scored, but Sidney Crosby made a diving block on his open-net chance.
“He’s playing real good hockey, you can tell,” Barzal said of Crosby. “He made that play late in the game to stop ‘Nelly’ from an empty net. He’s playing committed hockey. It is what it is. We’re just going to keep playing the way we’re playing. We’re not dwelling on tonight.”
Kris Letang gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 2:03 of the first period when his soft wrist shot from the right point hit Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock and deflected past Varlamov.
It was the second straight game Varlamov allowed an early goal; Penguins forward Bryan Rust scored 3:22 into Game 2.
“I’ll have to look at [the game] again,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said when asked about Varlamov’s performance. “We’ll have to look at it. Sometimes your first reaction might not be favorable, but I’m going to look at all the chances and the goals and see what we could have done.”
Mayfield tied it 1-1 at 11:03 of the second period when he took a pass from Barzal, deked Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese and roofed a wrist shot over Jarry’s glove.
“I think no matter what, when you lose, it’s tough,” Mayfield said. “That’s really all I care about, so it’s tough going down 2-1, losing one at home. But that’s the beauty of playoffs, you can bounce right back in two days. We’ve just got to refocus and have a good start on Saturday.”
Carter restored Pittsburgh’s lead 2:31 later with a wrist shot off the left post from the right circle to make it 2-1 at 13:34.
Jason Zucker pushed the lead to 3-1 at 18:03 of the second.
NOTES: Malkin had two shots, one hit and two blocks in 12:10 of ice time. … Letang also had two assists for his fifth three-point game in the playoffs, passing Larry Murphy for the most by a defenseman in Penguins history. … Pittsburgh’s top line of Crosby, Rust and Jake Guentzel was held without a point. … Barzal and Islanders forward Jordan Eberle each scored his first point of the series with an assist on Mayfield’s goal.