The New York Islanders will not go away quietly. There will be a game six Thursday night following the Isles’ 2-1 victory over the Lightning in double overtime. Jordan Eberle was the hero, scoring on a breakaway following a Kevin Shattenkirk turnover.
The Lightning had their chances throughout each overtime, seeing Zach Bogosian miss off the post, Nikita Kucherov miss off the side of the net, and Anthony Cirelli go wide right following a pass from Kucherov.
It can not be overstated how impressive Semyon Verlamov was in this game, turning away every high danger chance the Bolts brought his way. Unfortunately for the Lightning, that means that the series will continue and the Dallas Stars get some extra rest.
The Bolts were without star forward Brayden Point in this one and, although he makes a huge difference on the ice, he was not the reason the Lightning lost this game. Though, many will point to the fact that the Bolts are 0-2 against New York when Point is out of the lineup.
For the vast majority of the game, the Lightning outplayed the Islanders – making the loss all the more frustrating. Tampa Bay is now 0-5 in their last five Eastern Conference series clinching games. dating back to 2016 where they lost a 3-2 lead to the Pittsburgh Penguins followed up by losing a 3-2 lead to the Washington Capitals in 2018 – that team, of course, was coached by Barry Trotz.
It’s not all doom and gloom. The Lightning are still clearly the more talented team and seeing them lose three games in a row seems highly unlikely. In fact, this team hasn’t lost three in a row since their four game losing streak spanning February 20-27 where they fell to Vegas, Arizona, Toronto, and Chicago.
Since entering the bubble, including the exhibition “warm-up”, the round robin, and the three series they’ve played in thus far the Lightning haven’t even lost two in a row. They lost to the Flyers in the round robin followed up by a game one win against Columbus. They lost game two to Columbus, followed up by three straight wins to end the series. After losing game one to Boston in round two, they won their next six games until losing to the Islanders in game three. This also marks the first time they’ve lost an overtime game in the bubble.
No need to panic – like I’ve seen way too many people do on social media already. I realize emotion (and maybe some exhaustion) play into it, but I legitimately saw people saying the Lightning lost the series because of this one game. Relax. The Lightning still only need one more win while the Islanders will have to string three in a row together to burst Tampa Bay’s bubble.
Game six is Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.