The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to win their 13th straight game following a loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play the New York Islanders in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Monday.
The Lightning have not lost consecutive postseason games since the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round (12-0), including a 4-2 victory against the Islanders in Game 2 on June 15. New York evened the series again with a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Saturday.
“I think we’ve done it before, guys have been in this situation before, and they know what’s at stake,” Lightning forward Pat Maroon said. “I think it’s obviously a good opportunity [at] home. I think you’ve just to focus game by game and I think that’s what we do. We don’t focus on the series itself. We focus on the task at hand and the job at hand at that moment in time, so guys do a good job, adjustments are made and the players kind of buckle up when they need to and play the right way when we need to. I think guys do a real good job of doing that. But in saying that, we’re going to get an Islanders team that’s going to push here.”
Teams that win Game 5 after a best-of-7 NHL semifinal is tied are 47-15 (.758). New York won Game 5 on the road in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs, at the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
“We’re a confident group,” Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield said. “Looking back at the Game 5s, I think we might’ve stolen a couple of them, but we’re a confident group. We know what we have to do, we know we have to play on the road. We know they’re going to have a big push.
“It’s a three-game series now, and two of the games are on the road. We know what we have to do and just go in there and play our game.”
Here are 3 keys for Game 5:
1. Production from Stamkos line
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos scored 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 38 regular-season games and has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 15 playoff games, but he and linemates Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn do not have a point at even strength in this series. They’ve combined for two assists on the power play.
Stamkos has five shots on goal, Cirelli has seven and Killorn has eight.
“Everyone wants to go out there and produce at this time of the year,” Stamkos said. “Each round it gets tougher and tougher and the checking becomes tighter as you get closer to the Final. Of course you want to go out there and produce and help your team win, so that doesn’t change whether it’s Game 1 of the season or it’s going to be Game 5 of the Semifinals right now.
“We want to try to be as best as we can. For sure it is tough out there, but we’re not sitting here saying that it’s too tough. We’ve got to go out there and find a way and help our team win.”
2. First goal critical
The team that scores first has won each of the first four games in this series. In Game 4 the first goal was scored by Islanders forward Josh Bailey, at 5:30 of the second period.
During the playoffs the Lightning are 10-1 when scoring first and 0-4 when allowing the first goal. The Islanders are 5-1 when scoring first and 5-5 when allowing the first goal.
“I don’t think we’re actually looking on the stats of that, but it’s definitely good to start with the lead,” New York center Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “We’re a comfortable team when we score the first goal, and when we give up the first goal we have a lot of character to fight for that goal. I don’t think we really focus (on that), but it’s definitely fun to start and score that first one. It’s good for the momentum, it’s good for our confidence for sure.”
3. Better second period
Tampa Bay was dominated for the majority of the second period Saturday, when New York scored three goals and outshot the Lightning 17-9.
The Lightning scored twice in the third and nearly tied it in the closing seconds, so a more complete effort is necessary in Game 5.
“That energy and that passion we played with in the third period, we’ve got to come out and play like that from the puck drop,” Tampa Bay forward Ross Colton said. “We were talking in the locker room after that period, it can’t take us going down 3-0 for us to come out and bring that energy, bring that passion. That’s got to be from the puck drop and we’ve got to put the pressure on them. I think for us, just settle in, put pucks behind their [defensemen], make them turn and kind of try and put that first one in so that we’re playing with the lead and kind of playing our game.”
Islanders projected lineup
Kyle Palmieri — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Leo Komarov — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Travis Zajac
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
Scratched: Cole Bardreau, Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, Anatoli Golyshev, Simon Holmstrom, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Dmytro Timashov, Oliver Wahlstrom, Sebastian Aho, Samuel Bolduc, Braydon Coburn, Thomas Hickey, Grant Hutton, Bode Wilde, Ken Appleby, Cory Schneider
Injured: Michael Dal Colle (undisclosed)
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Blake Coleman
Ross Colton — Tyler Johnson — Pat Maroon
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — David Savard
Scratched: Alex Barre-Boulet, Mathieu Joseph, Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Gemel Smith, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Fredrik Claesson, Cal Foote, Luke Schenn, Ben Thomas, Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said everyone on the roster is available; Cernak briefly left in the third period of Game 4 following a hit from Martin. … Islanders forward Anders Lee, who had surgery to repair an ACL injury in his knee sustained March 11, skated again Monday but is not expected to play during the postseason.