Tampa Emerges Victorious in OT For Second Straight Game, Stretches Series Lead to 3-1.

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The New York Islanders lost a heartbreaker at home in overtime by the score of 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the second straight game that went past 60 minutes and where the Lightning came from behind to tie and eventually win in OT.

New York looked to avenge their 5-4 OT loss to the Lightning on Tuesday Night. Both teams had a couple bone crunching hits in Game 3, so everyone was wondering if that would boil over into tonight’s game. Besides that fact, tonight’s matchup will be intense for sure and I was not wrong.

Both New York and Tampa Bay started out very physical with the teams combining for 6 hits in the first 2:30 of the game  The Islanders got the first chance to score in the opening frame with an opportunity in front that was shut down by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. After Bishop froze the puck, a big scrum ensued in front of the net with all the Islanders trying to poke the puck in. While all the Lightning players took offense to the Islanders poking their goalie and stood their ground.

From this scuffle the games first penalty was taken thanks to Lightning enforcer Mike Blunden getting called for a two-minute infraction for roughing on New York center Ryan Strome at 2:44 of the first. New York would go to their first manpower advantage of the game looking to strike early. The Islanders would get their wish thanks to Kyle Okposo aka Booker T. The Islanders chance to strike on the power play was winding down and things were not looking so good. Fortunately, Islanders center Frans Nielsen held the puck in at the left-hand dot and slid the puck down to fellow line-mate Nikolay Kulemin below the goal line. Kulemin spotted alternate captain Kyle Okposo in the slot and hit him with a one touch pass. Okposo wasted no time with the puck on his stick and roofed it high glove side to put the Islanders up 1-0 just 4:20 into the first. This was Okposo’s first goal since scoring in Round 1 Game 1 against the Florida Panthers.

The games next scoring chance would fall to the Islanders as well. Just five minutes later Islanders rookie Shane Prince came down the left-hand side and put a wrister on net. Prince’s shot was turned away by Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, but he put the rebound right in the slot. Islanders superstar John Tavares picked the puck up and put a shot on net that beat Bishop blocker side but not the post and hit the iron and came right out. A definite chance that we will probably look back to as this game goes on.

Tampa Bay vet Ryan Callahan would then take a double minor for roughing Islander D-man Thomas Hickey. New York would go on a four-minute power play looking to cash in again to double their lead before the period ended. Although thanks to stellar penalty killing, Tampa Bay was able to kill off the long man advantage and only gave up 1 shot in the process. The first period ended with the Islanders up by the score of 1-0.

The second period started off just like the first one did with a penalty early. This time just 1:33 into the period, the roles were reversed and the Islanders went on the penalty kill with 4th liner Casey Cizikas getting a two-minute tripping call on Lightning star Ondrej Palat. To start the PP, New York goalie Thomas Greiss lost a skate blade and had to leave the ice for a repair. So New York was forced to call upon newcomer goaltender Jean-Francois Berube (first NHL playoff action) while Greiss is being attended too in the locker room. Tampa’s first power play of the game was ineffective as they only managed two weak shots and Berube shut them down so New York killed it off with poise.

Thomas Greiss was able to come back after only missing 4:47 in total time. Berube only faced two shots in his brief call to action and showed a strong confidence in himself. If he were to be called upon again, I am sure Islanders coach Jack Capuano will have a lot of faith in Berube to get the job done.

New York would get the next prime scoring chance again at the 10:22 mark of period two. Islanders 1st line center John Tavares dished some backhand sauce and sent Kyle Okposo in on a mini-breakaway in the slot. Okposo received the puck on his backhand and quickly turned the puck to his forehand and released a quick shot on net. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was up to the task and stoned Okposo with his glove and kept the score at 1-0 half way through the second frame.

The Lightning would get their second power play of the game with 11:42 gone as New York defender Johnny Boychuk slashed Tampa winger Ondrej Palat. New York penalty killers made that kill look easy and didn’t even allow a single shot and killed off the penalty. Then almost seven minutes later the Lightning would get their third power play and another chance to tie the game as they went back on the power play. Islander winger Brock Nelson got two minutes for tripping Tampa’s Jonathan Drouin. Just 17 seconds later, on the penalty kill no less, New York defenseman Calvin de Haan was in alone in front and tried going 5-hole on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. Haan was robbed on the breakaway with Bishop’s pad. Bishop was able to keep his team’s deficit still at one.

After that mishap, Tampa was able to stay in the offensive zone for almost the whole power play. Tampa was only able to get two shots on net, and thanks to killer shot blocking from the Islanders penalty killers they were able to get back to full strength. The second period ended with the score still sitting at 1-0.

The third period started off with a 5-10 minute delay because the glass/stanchion was broken in the rink so they had to fix it. As the game resumed, both teams started out strong. New York and Tampa Bay traded shots and chances back to back but no team was really able to gain momentum.

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Tampa Bay was finally able to break through and get one past Thomas Greiss. Tampa went to work behind the net in the offensive zone to try and get the puck. Lightning center Tyler Johnson was able to come out of the pile of players with the puck below the goal line. He found fellow 1st liner, Nikita Kucherov on the left-hand dot. Johnson delivered a perfect pass right in Kucherov’s wheelhouse. Kucherov one-timed the puck short side on Greiss to level the score to  1-1 at the 7:49 mark of the third. This was Kucherov’s league leading 8th goal of the playoffs.

After Kucherov’s tieing goal the Islanders and the Lightning had a couple prime scoring chances. Goalies Thomas Greiss and Ben Bishop were both stellar and didn’t let anything get past them. The third period ended 1-1. So now the game will be decided in sudden death overtime, just like Game 3 did. Tampa won Game 3 in OT thanks to Dan Boyle so the Islanders were definitely looking for revenge.

Well, Tampa Bay and New York obviously did not want to play triple OT like the Predators and the Sharks did last night because it took just 1:34 into the first overtime frame to get a winner. Tampa Bay had ALL the pressure to start off the OT and that’s how they scored the game winner. Tampa defensemen Andrej Sustr corralled fellow D-man Jason Garrison’s blocked shot in the left-hand corner and slid up to the point. Sustr located Garrison at the right-hand point and threw a beautiful pass over into Garrison’s sweet spot. Garrison unloaded a nasty one-timer that beat New York goalie Greiss far side past his blocker to end the game. It was the shortest overtime played this postseason.

Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss saved 20 out of 22 shots for a .909 SV% as well as J.F. Berube stopped the two shots he faced in emergency relief. Tampa goalie Ben Bishop stopped 27 out of 28 shots for a .964 SV%.

New York led in shots (28-24), faceoffs (29-22), and hits (45-29). Tampa only led in blocked shots (22-10). While the teams tied in penalty minutes (6-6) and giveaways (13-13). The Islanders were 1/3 on the Power Play and the Lightning were 0/3.

Tampa Bay put a major dagger in New York’s playoff hopes with tonight’s win. Their win now has them leading 3 games to 1 in the series (3-1). These two teams will play again on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm in Tampa, Florida where the Lightning will look to end the series on home ice.

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