There was a lot to like about the Islanders 5-3 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The club looked like a team out there that has been there before, instead of one that played in the second round for the first time since the Clinton Administration.
The Isles came out on the forecheck and forced the Lightning on their heels for the first two periods. They were a strong unit that played a very smart game and saw the early success.
“We just want to get pucks to the net,” said coach Jack Capuano. “(Ben Bishop) would probably like that one back, but at the end of the day he has got to bounce back. He is a great goaltender, it’s a long series, it is just one game, but whatever goalie is in (the net) we just have to continue to do what we need to do and get pucks and bodies to the net. Tonight some of our shots had eyes, but again, you need some puck luck in this game to win and we had that tonight.”
A Game 1 win is great and the Isles now have the upper hand. However, they need to be careful, because the Lightning is not the Panthers. This is the Eastern Conference Champs and they have a high skill level.
And if you remember, they had the same effort against the Rangers last year in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and went on to win that series in seven games.
“Obviously not the start we want, but at the same time we have been in this situation before,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. “We know we have to bounce back from this. Obviously the first two periods are something we have to clean up. In the third you know we played a lot better. We had opportunities and chances to tie it up, but we put ourselves into a big hole tonight and going into the third like that it is tough to get back from, but we almost got there.”
Game 1 also could have been a disaster as the ice tilted to the Lightning’s end for most of the third period. If it wasn’t for the 33 save effort by Thomas Greiss, the Isles may have dropped this match and put them in disarray.
However, there was just enough effort in the third for the club to come through.
“We would of loved to sustain a little longer, but they are a skilled team and they made a strong push to get their defense up on the play,” said Isles captain John Tavares. “We know they are going to respond, so we have to come out on Saturday with an even better effort.”
At least they know what’s on the plate. And because of the way this series is spread out due to the availability of the home arenas, the both sides will have a hard to keeping momentum going, meaning Game 2 may even be tougher for the Islanders.
Either way, we just gotten started.
And there’s a lot to like.