The Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6) will seek to close out their series against the New York Islanders (35-23-10) and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The series is 3-1 in Tampa’s favor. At the end of the regular season, the Lightning were second in the Atlantic Division with 92 points. They’ve only lost four games out of their seventeen games played so far in the bubble. The Islanders were fifth in the Metropolitan Division and had 80 points. They’ve played twenty games in the bubble, and they’ve dropped eight of them. The most recent game between these teams was on Sunday night. In that game, the Lightning would beat the Islanders with a final score of 4-1.
Lightning’s Quick Scoring Puts Them Within OneFor a moment, it looked as though Tampa was in a bit of trouble. Their lead on the series was in danger when they entered into game four after they dropped game three by a pair of goals. The Islanders had pulled themselves within one, and the Lightning needed something big to get them back on track. Luckily for them, that big thing came in the form of Brayden Point’s return. Point was absent during game three of the series after leaving in the final minutes of game two. He was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. In his return, though, he contributed both a goal and an assist. Point leads the Lightning with 25 points and 9 goals in the bubble. During the regular season, he was third on the team with 64 points, and had a plus/minus of 28, the best on the team. However, after getting tangled up in the third period, he would leave the game again. His status for game five is unknown.
The Lightning didn’t get their scoring started until past the halfway point of the game. But, they proved that Lightning can strike twice. The first goal of the game for Tampa was a game-tying goal from Blake Coleman at 11:42. His goal came just 15 seconds after the Islanders got their first and only goal of the game. A mere 12 seconds after Coleman’s goal, Ondrej Palat got the go-ahead goal. The three goals within 27 seconds was certainly a highlight of the game, but the Lightning weren’t done. They’d score two more times in the third period. One goal came from Brayden Point, and the other from Patrick Maroon. In goal for the Lightning was Andrei Vasilevskiy. He stopped 26 of 27 shots faced for a .963 save percentage.
Islanders In Danger Of Bubble BanishmentThe Islanders face being knocked out before game seven for the first time. Before now, they’ve either steamrolled through their opponent, as was the case with both the Panthers in the qualifying round and the Capitals in round one, or fought to the very end, as was the case with the Flyers in round two. This is the first time the Islanders have made it to the Conference Finals since the 1992-93 season. Close to two decades have passed since then, and it seems as if history could repeat itself since they also lost that playoff series 4-1. The Isles haven’t made it to a cup final since 1984, where their four-year streak of winning the Cup came to a close.
In present times, the Islanders didn’t play a very strong game on Sunday night. They had an abysmal faceoff percentage, only being able to win 38.2% of the faceoffs taken. They ended up with nearly 10 fewer shots on goal than the Lightning. After being scored on twice in 12 seconds, it seems as if the Isles were just not able to rally. Their only goal of the game came from Brock Nelson. Nelson leads the Isles in the bubble with nine goals. He also led them during the regular season, notching 26 goals. Minding the net for the Islanders was Semyon Varlamov. It was his 17th start of the postseason, and his 18th game he’s played in. He’s made appearances in all but two of the Islanders’ games within the bubble. He stopped 32 of 35 shots, including 8 shorthanded saves and 2 powerplay saves, for a save percentage of .914.
- The Islanders are 6-10-2 when their opponent scores first on the road.
- The Islanders are 3-7-2 when tied after the first period on the road.
- The Lightning are 5-3 in one-goal games on the road.
- The Lightning are 11-2-2 when leading after the first period on the road.