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The Islanders Died, Were Reborn, And Took Game 3 In Overtime On The Wings Of Thomas Hickey

The Islanders were dead. Flat out dead. Chief was drafting up a death certificate, Floridians were kissing their sisters in celebration, and I was hunched over on my couch; as Aaron Ekblad nipped what was supposed to be the goal that put the Panthers up 3-0.

Barkov’s goal to make it 2-0 had came just two minutes earlier and struck a good amount of fear into the fans who had packed out the Barclays Center for it’s first ever playoff hockey game. So when Ekblad followed it up making it 3 unanswered, it appeared Game 3 would be a blowout in Florida’s favor. That is until it was called back, as Jonathan Huberdeau was judged to have been offside on the ensuing entry.

offsides

There’s no doubt this decision was the turning point of the game. There is no ensuing 5 on 3 powerplay, there is no Ryan Pulock clapper to make it 2-1, there is no game-tying goal from Fransie, there is no Thomas Hickey OT winner – if that goal stood. But it didn’t, the powerplay came, Ryan Pulock clapped, and it was game on from there.

Ryan Pulock makes it a 2-1 game following the no-goal

pulock goal

The rest of the 2nd period was as hellish as playoff hockey can get. Florida did what both team’s have been able to do this series, and quickly answered. Just to be followed up by Shane Prince’s answer to the answer; making it a one goal game late in the middle period.

[Off-topic but kind of not] – the 3rd line of Ryan Strome, Shane Prince, and Alan Quine has been money this series. All three are young, inexperienced players, but they have meshed extremely well, extremely quick, and their style of play has led to some insanely fun hockey to watch, and one critical goal last night.

Shane Prince makes it 3-2 halfway through the 2nd

prince goal

Fransie follows it up with his patented backhander to make it 3-3 heading into the 3rd, we go through an intense, restless, scoreless 3rd period, and we find ourselves in overtime. Where underdogs become legends, where men become heroes, where Thomas Hickey became the phoenix rising from the Islanders collective ashes.

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Thomas Hickey’s game-winner in OT

hickey goal

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Again, we saw an Islanders team do what they’ve been able to do all year, which is battle back while down multiple goals, and somehow find a way to win late. In this case suuuppperrr-late, but a wins a wins a win and what looked to be a backbreaker of a loss for the Isles turned into a backbreaker of a loss for Florida. Eatin’.

Random thoughts

  • A lot of people have been complaining that the Isles forwards are top-heavy, with Okposo/Tavares/Nielsen being the only line able to produce. Meanwhile Quine/Strome/Prince have quietly been doing their jobs and creating opportunities left and right. In all reality all four lines have been doing what is asked of them. Bailey/Kulemin/Nelson had a very good game after an atrocious Game 2, yet continue to get shit on by fans because they’re not scoring goals. Meanwhile their two-way play are what kept the Isles in it last night.
  • On the opposite side of the spectrum, of the Panthers 39 shots, 27 of them came from Barkov, Huberdeau, Smith, and Bjugs combined. Top-heavy af.
  • I try not to call players out because I’m not a total asshole when it comes to blogging, but Johnny Boychuk has been eerily quiet this series. I hate to bring up the “Is he injured?” narrative but it’s unlike the Snowboss to not show up in big games. Maybe it’s him no longer being paired with Leddy, maybe it really is an injury, but I wouldn’t mind seeing #55 make a play or two on Wednesday.
  • Finally – I’m a single dude, 24, with no plans of getting married anytime soon, but I would like to take this opportunity to formally invite Thomas Hickey to my eventual wedding. Chicken or fish, bro?