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Islanders proud of effort, frustrated by result

New York wastes excellent first period, can't hold three one-goal leads in OT loss

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders came out flying Tuesday, just as they were expected to do in their first home game in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1993.

But the Islanders managed one goal against Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop in the first period despite peppering him with 17 shots, and they failed to take a one-goal lead into the locker room when Lightning forward Ryan Callahan scored a power-play goal with 12.5 seconds remaining.

"I thought it was the best first period we had in the series," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said.

The Islanders failed to protect a one-goal lead on three occasions, and Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov sent the game to overtime with 38.4 seconds left in the third period before Brian Boyle scored 2:48 into overtime in Tampa Bay a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Barclays Center.

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm3: Kucherov beats Greiss to tie the game

Frustration was the most popular word in New York's dressing room after the loss, one that has the Lightning ahead 2-1 in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 will be played at Barclays Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We just gave them a little too much room in the middle of the ice; a lot of that is on me," Islanders captain John Tavares said of Kucherov's tying goal, a play that saw Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin work his way past Kyle Okposo before feeding Kucherov in the slot. "As the lead-side forward, I've just got to slide in there; I tried to get my stick in there, and I just hit his skate. No excuse for it. I've got to close him off. The way they like to shoot it, especially [Victor] Hedman up top, they went down low and we just gave them a little too much time and they made a good play. Obviously I've got to do a better job there."

Boyle won it for the Lightning early in overtime, moments after he hit Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey at New York's blue line, knocking him out of the play. Islanders coach Jack Capuano was livid after the game, believing his team should have been awarded a power play. Instead, the Islanders need a win Friday to avoid a 3-1 series deficit before heading back to Tampa Bay on Sunday for Game 5.

Capuano didn't have an update on Hickey's condition after the game.

Video: Situation Room: Boyle's overtime winner stands

"It's a direct shot to the head," Capuano said. "He's probably going to get suspended a game. The whole game, it shouldn't come down to that. [The referee] is standing right there, I've watched it numerous times now. Those are the type of hits that we're trying to eliminate from our game. It's just too bad it had to end that way.

"I just thought our guys played one of the best games we've played all year. I thought we played a measured game in Game 2. We came out tonight and we really played a hard game, our guys should be proud of the effort. It's just tough the way that it ended."

It was tough the way it started too; the Islanders probably would have won in regulation had Bishop not been outstanding in the first period, when he made 16 saves. Josh Bailey's first goal of the playoffs at 7:55 was the only shot to get past Bishop in the period and allowed Callahan the opportunity to tie it 1-1 before intermission.

"It's always tough when you give one up with 10 seconds left," Islanders forward Frans Nielsen said. "I think we liked the way we came out. We just told ourselves to keep playing like that. But it's tough when you have the lead [three] times and they keep coming back. Tough loss."

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm3: Bishop stones Martin, Clutterbuck

Capuano agreed that Bishop's goaltending kept the Lightning in the game.

"Ben stood tall, he made some big saves," Capuano said. "There's no question they go into that room and they know they didn't play well. They played a solid rest of the game, so you've got to give them credit."

Perhaps the extra time off before the series resumes will allow the Islanders to refocus and avoid dwelling on what they felt was a missed call in overtime, or all the missed opportunities they had in the first period.

"We had more than enough chances to put it away," Tavares said. "We've just got to do a better job."

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