The Lightning was outplayed and was not competitive for the first 40 minutes in their 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders.
As a result, the Lightning are now tied with the Islanders at two games apiece, with a pivotal game five coming up Monday night in Tampa.
The Lightning lost the battles for too many loose pucks and played undisciplined hockey for two periods. The Lightning got their mojo back in the third period, as Braydon Point and Tyler Johnson scored goals, but the Lightning ultimately ran out of time in the 3-2 loss.
The Lightning had a great chance to tie the game. With three seconds left, Ryan McDonagh took a pass from Kucherov, spun around, and had Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov out of position.
Islanders defensemen Ryan Pulock slid across the goalmouth, blocking the shot to preserve the 3-2 Islanders win.
This is a place the Lightning have not been this postseason as they have been able to establish 3-1 series leads in their previous two series against Florida and Carolina.
The good news is the Lightning are 4-0 this postseason after a playoff loss and 11-0 in the last two playoffs. Although the Lightning have not played well at Amalie during this playoff run, this team knows what’s at stake.
The Lightning are 14-12 all-time in game 5’s and have a 10-5 record in game 5’s at Amalie Arena.
Victor Hedman said that the Lightning have to be better. “We didn’t execute. They were the better team. You give up three goals in a period; it’s not good enough. We pushed in the third but shouldn’t be in that position to start with, and we know that.”
Jon Cooper sounded somewhat surprised about the play of the Lightning in the second period. “That doesn’t happen to us too often. It was red rotten that second period. These guys have given it their all for whatever it’s been now, a month, and change. Sometimes you lay an egg, and we laid one in the second period. It was unfortunate because you don’t play well sometimes; the breaks don’t go your way. It’s one of those, if you do bend, you can’t break, and that second period we broke.”
At this point in the season, there are no secrets. The Lightning know how they have to play to get a win in game five.
One of the keys for the Lightning will be getting that first goal. When the Lightning have scored the first goal, they are 12-1. That strategy has proven to be successful this postseason. Score first and then smother the opposition with great defense and eliminate their scoring chances.
The other side of that coin shows the Lightning with an 0-4 record when allowing the first goal. So it will be crucial for the Lightning to get that first goal.
One player to watch for the Lightning will be Braydon Point, who has scored a goal in seven consecutive games.