Uniondale, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Nikolay Kulemin scored the winning goal in the third period and the New York Islanders held on for a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday to force Game 7 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Whether it was the last game at the Islanders' famed Nassau Coliseum remains to be seen. The series will be decided on Monday in Washington.
The Islanders, who have played at the Coliseum since their inception in 1972, will move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn starting next season.
John Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck also scored while Jaroslav Halak turned aside 38 shots for the Islanders, who are looking to win their first playoff series since the 1993 postseason.
"I wanted to make sure we gave ourselves a chance to get back to this building," said Tavares.
John Carlson had the only goal of the game for the Capitals and Braden Holtby stopped 35 shots in the loss.
"We need to forget about this one and re-energize and re-focus," said Carlson. "All our energy needs to go to Game 7 and that's it."
Tavares took one for the team on the go-ahead goal after charging down the middle and getting a shot on net that Holtby knocked away. Tavares went chasing after the puck in the left corner and, while trying to dig it out, was crushed by Alex Ovechkin. The puck wound up going to the mid-left boards where Nick Leddy whipped it to the slot and Kulemin tucked it home for a 2-1 lead with 9:27 to play.
"Everybody worked as a team today," said Kulemin. "It wasn't one guy or two guys, it was everybody."
Halak stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third, but got some help from the crossbar with 5 1/2 minutes to play as Jay Beagle rang a rebound off of it. The play was briefly reviewed to see if the puck went in, but the replay upheld the on-ice call.
"It was a rebound and I was going hard to the net," said Beagle. "I knew I wanted to go upstairs and I did, just hit the crossbar and it stayed out."
Washington pulled Holtby with around 1 1/2 minutes left, but was unable to net the equalizer before Clutterbuck put the game away with an empty-netter.
The game featured several hard hits in the first couple of minutes, and the Islanders took a 1-0 lead at 6:56 of the first.
Tavares picked the puck up along the right point and eventually cut over to the middle, wristing a shot just inside the right post for his second of the series.
Undisciplined play from New York, though, saw Washington skate for three straight power plays, and though Halak made several tough saves in the first two, the top-ranked power play unit during the regular season broke through on its third opportunity.
A long pass enabled the Capitals to gain the zone, and eventually lead to a goal as Ovechkin sent a pass from the left point to the right where Carlson blasted a shot in with just 4.3 seconds left in the opening frame.
New York nearly took the lead just over eight minutes into the second as Clutterbuck sent a riser on net that Holtby fought off. The shot trickled through Holtby, though, and just stayed to the outside of the left post.
Holtby turned aside all 17 shots he faced in the second period, while Halak made 10 to keep the game tied going into the third.
The winner of this series will face the top-seeded Rangers in the semifinals. The Rangers finished off the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday ... The Capitals were 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Islanders went 0-for-1 ... Leddy posted two assists in the game, while Tavares has two goals and four assists in the series ... New York has won five of the six playoff series against Washington.