Tampa Bay Lightning Make Short Work Of The New York Islanders

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Lightning finish off their six-game road trip right, making short work of the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Tampa Bay Lightning had a unique and incredibly important opportunity in front of them tonight. As the Lightning headed into the Barclays Center in the heart of Brooklyn to take on the New York Islanders, the Bolts had an opportunity to turn everything around and finish off their once-great road trip on a high note.

Unfortunately for both the Lightning and the Islanders, things went topside really quickly. It was just 1:42 from the first puck drop of the game when things escalated to a whole new level.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin was attempting to play the puck through the zone when he had his clock cleaned by the elbow of New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan. Needless to say, Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan took much offense to this and read the riot act to de Haan.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Of course, by read the riot act, we’re talking about with his fists. Unfortunately, what the Lightning forward didn’t expect was the lopsided penalties for the incident.

De Haan is assessed five minutes for fighting and five minutes for interference. On the other side of the ice, Callahan is assessed five minutes for fighting, two minutes for instigating a fight, and a ten-minute misconduct penalty.

So…let’s get this straight. Calvin de Haan elbows Drouin in the head, Callahan sticks up for his player, and Callahan is the one to get the misconduct? That sounds a little off if you ask us, but we guess that’s why we’re not the referees here.

On the flip side, if there is anything we’re fairly certain of, it’s that de Haan will more than likely be getting a phone call from the NHL Department of Player Safety. Providing he’s got no prior offenses, he’ll probably be looking at a 1-2 game suspension for this one. At the very least, he’ll be sent home with a healthy fine.

While this may be disheartening for the Lightning in the opening moments of the first period, the Lightning quickly found a way to strike back and make the Islanders regret their decision. Just moments before the first penalty to de Haan was set to expire, Nikita Kucherov picked up his second goal of the season.

It wasn’t long before Steven Stamkos would answer with a goal of his own. Unfortunately, the watchful eye of the Islanders video review people would bite the Lightning in the behind as the call on the ice us reversed when it is determined Lightning forward Tyler Johnson was offside on the play.

This is not the first time this season an offside play has cost the Lightning what would have been a good goal. In fact, it very well could have changed the course of the road trip. As Tampa Bay Times social media person Paul Driscoll said on Twitter, it may be time for the Lightning to have an entire practice dedicated to staying onside.

Thankfully, the Lightning didn’t let the goal reversal get them down. In fact, it seemed to have the exact opposite on the team. They seemed to be more determined than ever to get their second tally on the board after having on unceremoniously stolen from them by a silly penalty.

At 11:16 in the period, Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for hooking Lightning forward Ondrej Palat. This would open the door for Nikita Kucherov to pick up his second goal of the night, both on the Power Play, to extend the Lightning’s lead over the Isles to two.

Of course, the Lightning wasn’t done punishing the Islanders just yet. Just over one minute after Kucherov picked up his second goal of the night, recently recalled defenseman Slater Koekkoek would fire the puck towards the net. Steven Stamkos would just get his stick on the puck as it headed past Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss and into the back of the net.

The simple fact that Koekkoek could earn himself a point in his first appearance of the season with the Lightning only solidifies our assertion that Koekkoek should have remained on the Lightning’s roster from the very beginning, but we take solace knowing he’s here now and making a name for himself from the word go.

Related Story: Jonathan Drouin Leaves Game After Elbow To Head (Video)

This would effectively signal the end of the night for Greiss as Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano would elect to pull Greiss. Taking his place between the pipes would be goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

Being the sarcastic hockey fan we are, we made the comment on Twitter “What happens when Halak lets three goals in during the second period.” Well…more on that later.

Much to the pleasure of the Islanders, the buzzer would sound the end the first period of play. Unlike their meeting with the Rangers, the Lightning dominated the Islanders in the first period. The Bolts outshot the Isles 14-4 in the first period. In other words, Ben Bishop could’ve taken a short nap in the first period.

Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning and their fans received some bad news as the two teams took the ice for the second period of play. The Lightning announced Jonathan Drouin had sustained an injury and would not be returning against the Islanders tonight.

The Lightning were not very giving about the nature or severity of Drouin’s injury, nor did they offer up much information about how much (if any) time Drouin would be forced to miss away from the ice. One could easily assume as the Lightning make their way home tonight, the bigger picture will start to come into view.

In any case, the Lightning would have to find a way to move on without one of their most talented young forwards on the bench. The good news here is, the Lightning can be a pretty resourceful team when they need to situation calls for it.

Early in the second period, the Lightning would start their onslaught of Jaroslav Halak the same way they did to Thomas Greiss. Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula would play the puck into the offensive zone. About two strides into the zone, Filppula would pass the puck off to Ryan Callahan.

Without hesitation, Callahan spun and sent the puck soaring toward Brian Boyle. Boyle would maneuver the puck in an attempt to distract Halak. Once he had accomplished his mission, he tapped the puck right past Halak and into the back of the net. This extended the Lightning’s lead to four.

At 8:20 into the period, Nikita Kucherov would find himself headed to the penalty box for hooking Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. As usual, the Lightning’s penalty kill squad would go to work. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk would fire off a shot at Bishop that was quickly deflected away.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, this is where their night would go from bad to worse. The puck would ricochet off the boards and right past Calvin de Haan. This is where it would meet the stick of Lightning forward

This is where it would meet the stick of Lightning forward J.T. Brown. Brown would kick on the afterburners, blow away de Haan and make his way towards Halak. Brown would pull back his stick, take the shot, and extend the Lightning’s lead over the Islanders to 5-0.

The Tampa Bay Lightning would continue to keep their guard up and kill off the remainder of the penalty after the shorthanded goal from J.T. Brown. Just one minute later, the Lightning would continue to add insult to injury to the Isles. This is where we touch on the sarcastic comment from earlier.

Remember when we asked what would happen when Jaroslav Halak would let in three goals over the course of the second period? Well…about that.

Slater Koekkoek would wrestle control of the puck away from the Islanders in the neutral zone and send the puck flying towards Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov would hand the puck off the Valtteri Filppula who would play the puck to the side of the net. He’d take the shot despite all the chaos in front of the net.

For once, the chaos in front of the net worked to the advantage of the Lightning. Somehow, some way, the puck would find its way into the back of the net to give the Lightning a 6-0 lead over the Islanders.

As much as we’re happy the Lightning have found their groove, we can’t help but wonder where this team was against the New York Rangers on Sunday night? Yes, the Lightning were on the back half of a back-to-back, but that is no excuse for the kind of play the Lightning exhibited against the Rangers.

There were just 30 seconds left on the clock in the second period when the Islanders would finally be able to solve Ben Bishop and put the puck in the back of the net. The goal would come at the hands of former Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

Much like the first period of play, the Lightning would outshoot the Islanders in the second period. This time, the Lightning would outshoot the Isles 16-8 in the second for a two-period total of 30-12. Again, we ask where this team was on Sunday night.

The Islanders would attempt a resurgence in the third period by outshooting the Lightning 15-6. Unfortunately, this was one of those cases of too little, too late. The Lightning would finish off their six-game road trip on the right foot by defeating the New York Islanders 6-1.

Before we wrap things up, allow us to make a couple of observations from tonight’s game. The Tampa Bay Lightning knew they had to make an impact tonight. After dropping the last three games in a row, losing a fourth would be a tipping point the Lightning would’ve been hard-pressed to fight their way out of.

One of the biggest changes tonight came at the hands of the Lightning defense. One of the biggest contributors was newly-recalled Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek. In his first NHL game of the season, Koekkoek would register two assists in addition to his defensive duties.

Having multiple defensemen who can play on both sides of the ice is incredibly beneficial to a team like the Lightning who is hoping to make a deep run in the postseason. If the Lightning can find some sort of consistency and continue to occasionally pull off wins like tonight, the Bolts will find themselves in a good place towards the end of the season. Of course, there’s a lot of hockey to play between now and then.

Speaking of consistency, we must say…tonight is one of the most complete games the Lightning have played all season long. The Lightning established themselves early in the game and were able to control the pace of the game throughout. While the Bolts won’t be able to score six in every game, their effort shined through more than ever.

Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning will head home to the Amalie Arena to take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Lightning had a good night against the Islanders tonight, but if they are going to beat a team like the Bruins, they are going to have to find the consistency they lacked for much of the road trip.

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Recall Slater Koekkoek From Syracuse

The action is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. from the Amalie Arena. This is the first time the Lightning will be in front of their hometown crowd since the 4-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche on October 20th. You can bet the Lightning will be looking to put on a show for their fans.