Disastrous Second Period leads to tied series.
Series Tied 2-2
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed three goals on 30 shots for the loss. None of the three goals were soft, but the Lightning really needed one more situational save in that Second Period to give themselves a chance.
5:30 NYI Bailey (6), (Nelson, Beauvillier)
13:46 NYI Barzal (6), (Clutterbuck, Pelech)
17:57 NYI Martin (1), (Clutterbuck, Pelech)
3:45 TB Point (12), (Palat, Cernak)
6:43 TB Johnson (2), (Kucherov, McDonagh)
I have mixed emotions about this one. I thought the Lightning played a decent game for the majority of this one, but let it get away from them through a combination of poor puck management and buzzard’s luck in the Second Period. The Spartan 300 push I expected in the First Period from the Islanders never came and the Lightning actually carried much of the play in the opening frame and into the first five minutes or so of the Second Period, but didn’t get the payoff. Then, goals change games. The Islanders got theirs when Colton failed to get a puck deep at the opposing blueline and two forwards chased the puck leaving Bailey as the trailer to get a chance from the RW circle where he used McDonagh well as a screen. From there, the Islanders parlayed that into 15 minutes of domination of possession. They got the second goal on some luck where Brayden Point lost his stick and couldn’t mark Barzal on a rebound goal. The kill shot for the Islanders was a play where a Brayden Point failed clear led to scrambling in the Lightning zone and a ten bell chance that Martin potted. And, as usual, a three goal deficit after 40 minutes was a death sentence. Credit the Lightning for their push in the Third Period, which almost knotted the game up when Ryan McDonagh’s spinning backhand at the buzzer that completely de-jocked Varlamov was cleared off the line by Ryan Pulock, but it was too little too late. There are silver linings, yes, like Point’s line shaking off an absurdly bad first 40 minutes and getting some momentum for Game Five, but the team earned the L tonight.
The good news is that I still really feel the Lightning are the better team in this series. I can’t imagine the Point line, for instance, playing another 40 minutes that bad in their lives, let alone this series. And, I’m not seeing anything from the Islanders that the Lightning aren’t feeding them through the kind of puck management mistakes that cost them Game One and Game Four. But, I’m also uneasy that Barry Trotz is getting exactly what he wanted for this series. He wanted to find a way to get this down to a three game series and he’s worked the referees relentlessly to the point they’ve only awarded the Lightning one stinking power play in each of the last two games. As we get into elimination games in Game Six and a potential Game Seven, Trotz is betting the refs will swallow their whistles even more, and I think you’ll see some flagrant liberties taken by the Islanders because of it as they neutralize the Lightning’s athletic and skill advantages through old fashioned tackling. And they’ll probably get away with it. So, the Lightning need to buckle down for Game Five and, if they’re fortunate to win, be ready for a bloody death struggle to get the closeout. This is why I’d have rather played Boston. Cassidy’s an empty suit. Trotz is one of those coaches who is a warlock.
Ross Colton had 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 7:45. Colton, like the entire fourth line, was a mixed bag tonight. His turnover obviously led to the counter on the Islanders first goal, but he was also a component of Johnson’s comeback goal and nearly potted one in the comeback himself.