The New York Islanders lead the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 in their First Round series after scoring a 4-1 win at PPG Paints Arena in Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Leo Komarov and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders, who can advance to the second round with a win on Tuesday night. Despite now having a stranglehold on the series - their first 3-0 series lead since the 1983 Stanley Cup Final - the Islanders kept a calm demeanor after Sunday's win.
"Win the fourth one and we can be happy," said Robin Lehner, who made 25 saves in the win. "Right now we have three games. We need to win one more. They are a hell of a hockey team over there, we can't take anything for granted."
Video: Isles top Pens 4-1 to grab commanding 3-0 series lead
ISLES SCORE SECOND STRAIGHT COMEBACK WIN:
The maturity that kept the Isles postgame celebration even keeled exemplified the same steadiness that allowed the Islanders to score a comeback win in a hostile, towel-waving, gold-clad PPG Paints Arena. The Islanders knew to expect an early surge in Pittsburgh and the Penguins didn't disappoint, opening the scoring with Garrett Wilson's deflection at 12:54.
Much like Friday, the early deficit didn't bother the Islanders, who stormed back with four unanswered goals. The Isles, who were 17-18-2 when allowing the first goal in the regular season, are now 2-0 when allowing the opening tally in the playoffs.
"That hasn't fazed us all year," Head Coach Barry Trotz said of allowing the icebreaker. "We've been pretty even keeled about that, but getting the quick response key on that."
The Islanders' response came before the PA announcer could even broadcast the Pittsburgh goal. Eberle did the deed, threading the needle over Matt Murray's shoulder from a sharp angle a mere 28 seconds after Wilson's goal.
The momentum swung in the Islanders' favor and 1:02 after Eberle's tying goal, Nelson netted the eventual winner, keeping and shooting on a two-on-one rush with Josh Bailey, sniping far side on Murray at 13:22.
Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Nelson buries wrister on odd-man rush
"It's been the storyline for the last couple of games. They score and we come back," Eberle said. "Playoffs are all about momentum. When you can take some teams [momentum] away and continue to build yours it's key."
Armed with a lead, the Islanders clamped down. The Penguins whiffed on a three-on-one at the end of the first period and afterwards, the Isles were stingy at even strength. Pittsburgh had their chances with the man advantage, but five-on-five, the Isles played their game, frustrating the Penguins offense. In total, the Isles outshot the Penguins 28-18 in the final 40 minutes. Sidney Crosby was also held off the scoresheet for a third straight game in the postseason, the first time since June 4-9, 2016.
"We're just trying to focus on the blueprint that's made us successful during the regular season," said Cal Clutterbuck, whose line was tasked with the Crosby matchup. "We're just trying to do the same thing at a playoff intensity."
Komarov gave the Islanders some breathing room with his first of the playoffs at 10:27 of the third period, one-timing a cross-ice feed from Anthony Beauvillier short side on Murray. Lee later iced the game with an empty-netter at 18:32. From there, the Isles immediately shifted their focus to preparing for Tuesday night.
"Obviously we're happy to be in this position, but Barry said the fourth one is going to be the toughest one," said Nelson. "We're going to be trying to end their season, so we have to expect their best [in Game 4] and come out even better and even sharper."
Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Komarov beats Murray short side
EBERLE STAYS HOT:
Jordan Eberle scored in a third consecutive game on Sunday, threading the needle with a sharp-angled shot over Matt Murray's shoulder.
The goal was Eberle's team-leading third goal of the playoffs, tying him with Nicklas Backstrom for the NHL postseason lead. Eberle was on the ice for seven of the Islanders first eight playoff goals, making him a key driver of the Isles early playoff success.
"If you get some of those high-end skill guys hot at the right time, your whole group gets a little breathing room," Trotz said. "Jordan has been really good through the series, but I can't think of a player who has not."
It's well-tread ground at this point, but Eberle has done a marvelous job of putting the 2017 playoffs behind him.
Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Eberle snipes wrister from tough angle
CROSBY HELD OFF SCORESHEET:
Sunday marked the fourth straight game (regular season and playoffs) the Islanders had held Sidney Crosby was held off the scoresheet, a franchise first. Jake Guentzel, who led the Penguins with 40 goals during the regular season, was also held pointless for a third straight game.
Trotz, who called Crosby the "gold standard" in the league, said there hasn't been a concerted effort to shut down any one player.
"The strategy is to stop everyone," Trotz said. "There isn't any focus on one particular guy. When we are on the ice against anyone in this league, you take care of your own business. I think we've been doing that."
Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Lehner alertly stands tall to deny Pens
The Islanders power play went 0-for-2 on Sunday afternoon. Their best chance was a Ryan Pulock shot off Murray's shoulder and the crossbar during a 53-second five-on-three. The Isles power play is now 2-for-10 in the series.
The Isles PK went 3-for-3 on Sunday afternoon.
The Islanders and Penguins play Game 4 on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.