Mathew Barzal’s OT-winner gives Islanders stranglehold on Capitals

The Islanders finally found a strong start to match their strong third period.

But it took overtime Sunday to put them 60 minutes away from finishing off the series.

Mathew Barzal delivered the winner 4:28 into overtime to lift the Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Capitals, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Jordan Eberle sent a pass into the offensive zone and Barzal used his speed to take over, sweeping right to left past Braden Holtby before unleashing a backhand into the open net.

Just before Barzal’s winner, Semyon Varlamov had saved the Islanders by stopping a pair of shots from Jakub Vrana on a breakaway to keep the overtime alive.

Mat Barzal celebrates his game-winning goal against the Hurricanes today.NHLI via Getty Images

The teams entered the third period knotted 1-1 despite plenty of opportunities for the Islanders to get ahead. Holtby made sure it stayed that way through the end of regulation, making 31 saves as the Islanders outshot the Capitals 32-20 through 60 minutes. Varlamov wasn’t tested as much in the Islanders’ net but did put the clamps down in the third period to make sure the game got to overtime.

The Islanders got no help from their struggling power play, either, which went 0-for-5.

Anders Lee put the Islanders on top 1-0 at 14:50 of the first period. Holtby and the post had temporarily denied an Islanders flurry, but they cycled the puck back to the blue line, where Adam Pelech sent another shot on net. It found Lee, who redirected it past Holtby for his third goal in three games this series.

It was the first time in the series the Islanders had taken the lead first, after having some sluggish starts in the other two games. They had chances to add to it in the opening 20 minutes, but went 0-for-3 on the power play in the first period.

The Capitals took advantage of their power play early in the second period, when Evgeny Kuznetsov flung a wrister past Varlamov to tie it 1-1 at 5:50.