UNIONDALE, N.Y. – John Tavares scored 15 seconds into overtime for the New York Islanders, who defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday.
After a faceoff win to start overtime, Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk sent a shot that Capitals goalie Braden Holtby saved and kept in play. Defenseman John Carlson tried to clear it, but Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy kept it in the zone and shot it on goal. Forward Nikolay Kulemin deflected the shot and defenseman Brooks Orpik tipped the puck, which Holtby saved, before the rebound went to Tavares, who scored from the side of the net.
"I had some chances," Tavares said. "I had one early that I don't know how it didn't go in. I just tried to stay with it. It was a tight game. I just wanted to get to the net and I finally got rewarded."
The Islanders took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, which resumes Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN360, TVA2, CSN-DC, MSG+).
It was the Islanders' first overtime win in the playoffs since David Volek scored in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division Finals in 1993.
"He's such a good player and has scored so many big goals that you know that he's going to rise to the occasion and he definitely did that," said Islanders forward Kyle Okposo, who also scored. "That's a huge goal for us. He's a special player."
New York had a 1-0 lead entering the final seven minutes of the third period before Washington tied it with 6:06 remaining on a goal by forward Nicklas Backstrom from near the right circle.
The Islanders outshot the Capitals 16-5 in a scoreless first period. New York had the first 10 shots on goal. Washington didn't have its first shot until 7:52 into the game.
Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves (11 in the third period), including three on Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.
"Tonight it was a great effort by our guys, blocking shots and not giving him too much time," Halak said. "We all know that he's going to come out hard next game and he's going to try to score some goals. We just need to play our game the same way."
Holtby, who didn't play in Game 2 on Friday because of an illness, made 40 saves and withstood the Islanders' onslaught in the first period.
"That's all you really want to do on the road, in the first period, to come out at least tied and we did that," Holtby said. "Just didn't push enough for the last two periods."
Capitals coach Barry Trotz was pleased with Holtby's play.
"He was really good," Trotz said. "He was square to the puck. They were putting pucks from in everywhere. He responded really well. Looked good, looked sharp."
Okposo gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 12:37 of the second. Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who was hit by Capitals forward Troy Brouwer 8:08 into the second period and skated to the locker room, returned to set up Okposo's goal. Visnovsky took a shot from the right side, which deflected off Okposo's leg and past Holtby.
"He's a silver fox," Okposo said of Visnovsky. "He's just a great, heady veteran player. He's a warrior. He came back after taking a pretty tough hit and was able to make some huge plays for us down the stretch. He obviously made a really good play on my goal. He's been great for us all year when he's in the lineup and we're happy to have him."
Washington, which had the NHL's best power play during the regular season, went 0-for-3 with three shots on goal on the man advantage.
"We just didn't score," Ovechkin said. "That was it. We had chances.
"We didn't play our game in the first two periods. … We have to forget this game and move forward."
When the Islanders gave up the lead in the third period, coach Jack Capuano said the captain calmed them down.
"Ninety-one was 91," Capuano said. "He did a lot of good things for us not only on the ice but on the bench too when they made the push. He has been there all year for us and it was no different tonight."
Capitals forward Eric Fehr left the game early in the first period after a hit by Okposo. He sustained an upper-body injury and didn't return, and Trotz was unsure of his availability for Game 4.