It just wasn’t meant to be.
The Lightning had a chance to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015 and couldn’t get it done.
Playing without their best player Braydon Point, the Lightning lost a 2-1 overtime double-overtime affair to the New York Islanders.
The Lightning still holds a three games to two lead in the series and will look to send the Islanders home on Thursday night.
With Point out of the game, it was hard for the Lightning to get any sustained offensive attack going.
The Islanders got on the board first as Ryan Pulock scored a power-play goal at 15:41 of the first period to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
Victor Hedman tied it up for the Lightning at the 4:00 minute mark of the second period, and it stayed that way till the second overtime.
It was a defensive struggle as no team was able to get anything going much as evidenced by the shots on goal.
The Lightning managed just 37 shots on goal in 132 minutes of hockey. The Islanders finished with 24.
The Lightning had the momentum going in the second overtime when Kevin Shattenkirk misplayed the puck.
It ended up on the stick of Anders Lee who passed to a wide-open Jordan Eberle who put it behind Andrei Vasilevskiy at 12:30 of the second overtime to extend the Islanders season.
Both goalies played outstanding. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov was the first star of the game.
The Lightning had a four-minute power play at the end of the second that went into the third period and could not get a shot past Varlamov. That was a turning point in the game for both teams.
Victor Hedman speaking after the game said it was a tough loss, but they would have another opportunity to close out the Islanders in two days.
“It’s tough for us obviously, but this is hockey. It’s how you respond to this that’s going to define you as a team. I’m not worried about how our group is going to respond to this. We missed an opportunity tonight, but we have a new one here in a couple of days.”
Cooper said he was pleased with the defensive effort against the islanders. “We believe in what we’re doing. We didn’t come into these playoffs thinking we were going to go 16-0. We just came into these playoffs with a mindset we were going to win 16 games. And the way you have to win those games is to defend the way we’ve been defending. We keep doing that, I’ve got a lot of faith in this group.”
Cooper also lamented the fact that the Lightning had opportunities and couldn’t take advantage. “We had opportunities to put the game away and either it was a bounce here or a save here or a blocked shot here, but if you look at the game as a whole, if we keep doing that, I’m pretty confident in our group.”
Cooper was non-committal about Braydon Point being in the lineup for the game on Thursday night. He said it was too early to make any decision.
It may come down to a game-time decision on Thursday night for Braydon Point playing, or sitting in the press box.