Only the final lead was safe in Game 4.
Tavares slammed in his own rebound in front after Brad Boyes fed him following a turnover by Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. It was the Islanders’ third one-goal advantage in the game and the one that earned them a 2-2 tie in the highly entertaining series that has featured 5-4 and 6-4 finishes at Nassau Coliseum.
Tavares was serenaded with cheers of “M-V-P” from the frantic crowd that is believing an upset is possible. Casey Cizikas shoved in a shot with 1:16 left to add some much-needed insurance.
Brian Strait, captain Mark Streit, and Kyle Okposo also had goals, and Evgeni Nabokov made 27 saves for the eighth-seeded Islanders.
Game 5 is Thursday in Pittsburgh.
James Neal scored in the first period. Malkin added a tying goal in the second, and Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis provided the Penguins with a pair of one-goal leads they couldn’t protect.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped only 18 shots during a difficult night.
SENATORS 3, CANADIENS 2 (OT)
In Ottawa, Kyle Turris scored 2:32 into overtime, lifting the Senators past Montreal to grab a 3-1 lead in their playoff series.
Turris’ shot from the sideboards sneaked past Montreal backup goalie Peter Budaj, who came on for the injured Carey Price at the start of overtime.
Cory Conacher scored with 22.6 seconds to go in regulation to force overtime. Mika Zibanejad had the other goal for the Senators, who got 26 saves from Craig Anderson.
P.K. Subban and Alex Galchenyuk scored 62 seconds apart in the second period for Montreal. Price made 30 saves two nights after allowing all six goals in Ottawa’s 6-1 win in Game 3.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Montreal.