TAMPA — The Lightning are a proud group. When they don’t play well, they get a little angry. And that’s what seemed to happen following an ugly second period of their Game 4 loss two nights ago on Long Island.
Tampa Bay nearly came back in the third period of that game, coming one remarkable diving save away from sending it to overtime. And that momentum — and determination — carried into Monday’s Game 5 on home ice.
The Lightning’s most tightly contested series of the past two postseasons turned lopsided — at least for one night — as the Lightning not only beat the Islanders, they dismantled them in an 8-0 rout before 14,791 at Amalie Arena.
“We’re a proud group, and it wasn’t in our DNA for that to happen,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said about the second period of the team’s 3-2 loss in Game 4. “I think our response in Game (4), although we fell short, I thought it carried over to tonight. And the boys built off the momentum.
“We didn’t want to sit here (in this situation), just because we were really disappointed in the loss the other night. We wanted to be able to come home and end the series tonight and not have to keep building. Love the effort, but in the end it’s one win. And regardless what you win by, it’s the win that matters, not the how much.”
The Lightning’s final tally was their most goals in 27 postseason games — since an 8-2 Game 1 win over the Islanders in last year’s Eastern Conference final. And now the Lightning are one win from their second straight Stanley Cup final. They can close out the Islanders and end their run at Nassau Coliseum Wednesday night.
Over the past four periods, they’ve outscored the Islanders 10-0.
The Lightning continued their remarkable streak of rebounding after a loss, improving to 12-0 when coming off a defeat over the past two postseasons.
“That second period (of Game 4) was probably one of the worst we’ve had,” said forward Yanni Gourde, who scored one of the Lightning’s three first-period goals. “We wanted to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, that it doesn’t repeat itself. I think this is the way our group is built. We have a lot of maturity, a lot of leadership in this group. And when things like that happen, I think we take a lot of pride in having a bounce-back.”
The Lightning’s second forward line, which hadn’t scored a goal this series entering the night, scored on their first shift of the game 45 seconds in as Steven Stamkos put in a rebound of Alex Killorn’s shot from the slot. Stamkos and Killorn scored two goals apiece on the night.
“We played really well in all the zones. I really liked the way we broke the puck out,” Killorn said. “Guys were skating, we were winning battles to pucks on the forecheck. The first one, kind of a fortunate bounce for us, but I think when you work hard and you do the right things, those bounces kind of come your way.”
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The Lightning created several turnovers in their three-goal first period, leading to eight odd-man rushes in the period. Gourde scored Tampa Bay’s second goal after Blake Coleman took the puck away from Leo Komarov near the New York blue line, creating a two-on-one breakaway. Gourde’s shot went off Islanders defender Andy Greene and past goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Killorn’s first goal with 4:33 left in the first sent Varlamov to the bench for a goaltender change. Varlamov, who allowed two goals per game in the series entering the night, allowed three goals in the first 15:27 of Game 5.
“It was one of those nights where we couldn’t do anything right, it didn’t go our way and it just was a tough one,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ll just have to park it. We’ve just got to focus on earning the right to keep playing.”
The Lightning were 3-for-6 on the power play after scoring just two man-advantage goals in the first four games of the series.
Brayden Point scored Tampa Bay’s final power-play goal 1:59 into the third after Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was given a five-minute cross-checking major and game misconduct at the end of the second for his hit on Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta.
Point’s score, his league-leading 13th of the postseason, gave him goals in eight straight playoff games, which is the second-longest streak in NHL history. Philadelphia’s Reggie Leach scored in 10 straight in 1976.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had 21 saves for his fourth career postseason shutout, and third of these playoffs.
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