For the Islanders, the pattern in the playoffs has been basically identical to this point. In the first two rounds, they split the first two on the road and lost game three at home before winning three in a row to beat both the Penguins and Bruins. In the Stanley Cup Semifinals against the Lightning, the Islanders are following the same trend as they are tied with the defending Stanley Cup champions at two games apiece heading into game five on Monday night in Tampa (8pm NBCSN).
Game five in a series tied at two is always pivotal as the loser faces elimination in game six. In the first two rounds, the Islanders were able to grab game five on the road and now they are hoping to do it again in order to move within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
“We have a confident group,” said Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield. “We know what we have to do. We know they’re going to have a big push. It’s a three-game series now. We know what we have to do and just go in there and play our game.”
Islanders vs Lightning (Series tied 2-2)
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…Islanders 3 Lightning 2…
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
Coming into the series, the Islanders plan was to try and stay out of the penalty box as much as possible so that they can prevent the powerful Lightning power play from wreaking havoc. So far, the Islanders have killed off 7 of the 9 Tampa Bay man-advantages however the Lightning scored the game-winning goal just seconds after a power play expired in their game three victory on Thursday night.
“We’re not going to be able to stop it totally,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “But if we can prevent it from inflicting major damage on us then we want to do that.”
When it comes to the current situation, the Islanders are battle-tested and they know the challenge that lies ahead. As they’ve navigated through the last two post-seasons and reaching the NHL’s final four on both occasions, they have a clear understanding of what lies ahead.
“The further you go on in a series the harder it gets,” said Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier. Game five is going to be harder than the last game. We’re going to have to be at our best and they’re going to be at their best.”
Two wins away from their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984, the Islanders have a tough challenge ahead of them and part of that challenge is finding a way to win at least one more game on the road in Tampa. It’s been a fascinating series so far and who knows what we’re in store for if both teams can take their games to another level.