In the opening round of the playoffs, the Islanders lost game three at home and trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins two games to one, but the Isles would run off three straight wins and take the series four games to two. Same story in round two as they lost game three at Nassau Coliseum to the Boston Bruins but then won the next three to win that series four games to two.
And now, heading into game four of the Stanley Cup Semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night (8pm USA Network), the Islanders are in a position that they’ve grown accustomed to being in during this post-season…down two games to one.
“We’ve had success even being in this position,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “We’ve been here before. Just take care of business here. If you haven’t done it you always have that doubt. We’ve done it twice already so there should be no doubt.”
There is also no doubting that goals in this series have been hard to come by and that is going to have to change if the Islanders are going to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
In the game three loss, the Islanders had 28 shots on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, but Tampa Bay was able to block 21 other Isles shot attempts.
“They defend well,” said forward Cal Clutterbuck who scored the only Islanders goal in Thursday’s 2-1 loss in game three. “So do we. If they blocked 21 and we had (28 shots on goal), that’s 50 chances at the net so keep adding to that number we’ll be fine.”
Islanders vs Lightning (Tampa Bay leads 2-1)
Game 1…Sunday June 13th…Islanders 2 Lightning 1…
Game 2…Tuesday June 15th…Lightning 4 Islanders 2…
Game 3…Thursday June 17th…Lightning 2 Islanders 1…
Game 4…Saturday June 19th…Lightning at Islanders…8pm USA Network
Game 5…Monday June 21st…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
*Game 6…Wednesday June 23rd…Lightning at Islanders…8pm NBCSN
*Game 7…Friday June 25th…Islanders at Lightning…8pm NBCSN
Over the course of the first three games of this series, there hasn’t been a lot of open ice and room for both teams which has placed the focus squarely on Vasilevskiy and Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov. There has been little room for error for either netminder but thus far Vasilevskiy, the second star in game two and the first star in game three, has had the upper hand.
All three contests have been one goal games entering the third period so it’s a series that can still go either way.
“Every game has been tough,” said Islanders forward Casey Cizikas. “Each team is battling. They want to take care of their own end and limit chances as much as possible. It’s going to be a dog fight out there every single game and we expected that.”
And there’s no reason not to continue to expect that for as long as the series goes on.