TAMPA — Watching the Lightning struggle in the first period in back-to-back games against the Islanders in New York, coach Jon Cooper quipped that his team needed to realize the games started at 7 p.m., not 8.
Sunday, Tampa Bay flipped the script with an impressive opening 20 minutes, taking a two-goal lead that set the tone for a clinching 4-0 win in Game 5 of its second-round playoff series. After D Victor Hedman opened the scoring six minutes in, C Brian Boyle added a dagger with just more than a minute left in the first, roofing a shot from near the right post.
"It was big," Boyle said of the Lightning's first. "We were playing well early. It was big to get the goal, and to get another one was big.
"You see how (G Ben Bishop) stood on his head when they got goals and they got leads (in New York), but we kept (the Islanders' leads) at one, and that was important in our comebacks (to win both games) because we didn't have many opportunities. It's important to try and build on your lead, and (we) continued to push."
After allowing 32 combined shots in the first periods of Games 3 and 4, the Lightning surrendered just six in Sunday's first period.
REST UP: The Lightning played 26 of 28 possible games in last year's playoffs, which likely took its toll by the end in the Stanley Cup final.
But after winning its first two series this year in five games apiece, Tampa Bay is looking at nearly another week off before the Eastern Conference final begins, likely next weekend, against either the Penguins or Capitals. The Lightning had about a week off between its first-round series with Detroit and the Islanders series. It is off today, with a potential for another off day this week, too. The Penguins-Capitals series continues Tuesday with Game 6. Pittsburgh is up 3-2.
"Not a bad time to have some time off," Bishop said. "We'll wait and see who we play. Both of those teams are great opponents, so we'll just watch and relax for a couple days."
LINING UP: D Slater Koekkoek played in his fourth straight game and D Luke Witkowski his second as the Lightning went with seven defensemen again. Koekkoek, who has seemed to supplant in the lineup Nikita Nesterov (scratched for the second straight game), logged 9:49 of ice time. Witkowski played 4:17, two minutes more than he did in Friday's playoff debut.
RW Jonathan Marchessault returned to the lineup, replacing scratched RW Mike Blunden. RW Erik Condra and D Matt Taormina were also scratched.
NUTS AND BOLTS: C Valtteri Filppula had another unsung performance, winning 11 of 13 faceoffs and playing 19:32. … The Lightning penalty kill was 2-for-2, including killing off a power play in the first two minutes of the game. "It's not necessarily how many, but timely (penalty kills)," Bishop said. … C Tyler Johnson's second-period assist gave him a league-high-matching nine this postseason. RW Jonathan Drouin got his eighth.
Times correspondent Roger Mooney contributed to this report.