Anders Lee slapped his stick on the Scotiabank Arena ice, surely alerting the Capitals to his presence at the right post.
Adam Pelech, standing at the left point, still put the puck perfectly on the captain’s stick blade for the Islanders’ first goal in the first period of a 2-1 overtime win in Sunday’s Game 3 of the first-round playoff series in Toronto.
It was part of another quietly brilliant two-way performance by Pelech, who turned 26 on Sunday. In the second period, Pelech’s defensive stickwork behind the Islanders’ crease stifled a Capitals’ opportunity.
“Pelly is hitting his stride,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of Pelech, who suffered what was thought to be a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury on Jan. 2 but was able to return with the season paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He’s getting more and more reps so all those instincts that make him a good defender are getting acutely sharp.”
Top-line center Nicklas Backstrom remained out of the Capitals’ lineup after entering concussion protocol following Lee’s hit on him in the first period of Game 1.
Coach Todd Reirden did make several lineup changes for Game 3, inserting defensemen Radko Gudas and Martin Fehervary for Michal Kempny and Jonas Siegenthaler. Also, center Brian Pinho, 25, made his NHL debut with Travis Boyd a healthy scratch.
“We inserted some new guys today, got a little bit of energy from them,” Reirden said.
Left wing Anthony Beauvillier was held without a point for the first time in seven postseason games…The Islanders have taken a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven playoff series for the 11th time in franchise history. They’ve completed the sweep seven times and won all 10 series…The Islanders were the designated home team for Game 3 so, technically, this marks the first time in 11 games – eight in the regular season and three in the playoffs – the home team has won in this rivalry since Trotz left the Capitals for the Islanders in 2018.