Our New York Islanders needed to be ready to face a desperate Lightning team in Tampa Bay for game 2 for what they deemed “a must win.” A victory would give the Isles their first 2-0 series lead since 1993. “We are expecting their best and we want to raise our game,” Tavares said. “We want to get to another level and build off of the first win.” Tavares came into game 2 as the playoff point’s leader with 11. Jack Capuano mentioned that Ryan Pulock will be considered for a return to the lineup when healthy. I’d look it to be in game 3 if at all possible.
The first period started in a bad way for New York. After a few miscues and a couple of giveaways, Tampa Bay was able to score twice for a 2-0 lead on 4 shots against. The first was after a mid-ice collision between Clutterbuck and Leddy, which allowed an odd man break that resulted in a soft goal by Johnson. The 2nd, a flubbed play by Nikolay Kulemin that yielded a first-ever play off goal by Drouin. Kulemin (Hickey & Quine) would redeem himself a few minutes later on the PP when he deflected one past Bishop to make it a 2-1 game. After the goal, the Islanders would come to life late in the period and looked as if they might be finding their rhythm. The Lightning benefitted from a questionable PP chance in the second period after Clutterbuck was charged with goaltender interference when pushed by Boyle. TBL would take that lucky call and get an even luckier goal as Hedman sent in a shot that was going way wide after it deflected off of de Haan’s skate for a 2 goal lead once again, 3-1. It was Hedman’s first of the playoffs. Another bad break for the Islanders.
The Islanders struggled again in the third period and generated very little offensive pressure, managing only 3 shots against a well-rested and comfortable, Ben Bishop. So much so that the need to pull Thomas Greiss with 4:00 remaining was necessary. That should tell you the story. Johnson added an ENG to clinch a 4-1 win for Tampa. To add to the ugliness, with the game outcome not in doubt, a barrage of penalties ensued at the close, because of the way it was called by the officials.
The Isles fell behind early again. They have allowed the 1st goal in 7 of 8 games so far in the post season (04 Senators only other). There were also too many mistakes made by New York that kept Tampa Bay in the game, especially failing (1 of 5) on the man advantage. They didn’t make Lightning pay when they had the chance on the power play. They can’t seem to find consistency when up a man. A dangerous trend when you are playing the most penalized team in the NHL (5 penalties taken with only 1 goal for the Isles) who rank last on the kill. Tampa was just more motivated. More desperate. TB did a nice job of controlling the neutral zone while the Islanders continued to dump and chase and never generated much pressure (out shot 31-20), especially on Ben Bishop who looked too comfortable in his crease. Nowhere near his struggles of game 1.
For the Islanders, Marek Lidlicky did well at times in relief, but has become exposed. The return of Ryan Pulock could give them a huge lift and punch on that struggling PP. There is also a big need for players like Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson and Johnny Boychuk to perform better. Thomas Greiss (27 of 30 with a .900Sv%) was good, but felt the sting of his team’s flat play. The Grail Knight of the game, to me, was Casey Cizikas. The 4th line tried to do some things early on and Cizikas had some strong pressure in all areas of the ice.
We get 2 in Brooklyn. Don't flip out. But the Islanders had better come up with the necessary adjustments and be ready to make a statement like the Lightning did today. If they do that, a 1-1 split heading back to Brooklyn for game 3 is really an OK place to be. They still have a best of 5 series opportunity with 3 of those games at home. See you Tuesday.
Yesterday, the Islanders called up Cliche, Florek, Dal Colle, Kearns, Mayfield, Wotherspoon, Gibson, per Arthur Staple.
Thomas Greiss is the first goaltender in Isles history to win 5 playoff games (1.94gaa & .941Sv%) in his first year with the team.
After game 1, Shane Price said “I am beyond grateful to be here." per Mark Herrmann.
The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will be held tonight with live coverage at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, CBC and TVAS.