Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

Lightning-Islanders Game 5 report card: Getting up close and personal

Alex Killorn did the dirty work around the crease to help Tampa Bay’s second line get untracked.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) and left wing Steven Stamkos (91) celebrate right wing Alex Killorn’s (17) goal during the first period.
Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) and left wing Steven Stamkos (91) celebrate right wing Alex Killorn’s (17) goal during the first period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jun. 22
Updated Jun. 22

One goal went in off his stick, the other off his backside.

Both were scored from the goaltenders’ laps.

Welcome to Alex Killorn’s office.

Steven Stamkos does most of his damage from the left faceoff circle. Killorn on Monday did his from his right ... cheek?

Together the two, along with linemate Anthony Cirelli, helped push the Islanders to the brink of elimination and the Lightning to within one win of returning to the Stanley Cup final.

After contributing just two assists in the first four games of the semifinal series, Tampa Bay’s second line came alive in Game 5, accumulating four goals and seven points in an 8-0 win. Killorn and Stamkos had two goals and three points apiece, while Cirelli repeatedly drove to the net and added an assist.

Stamkos, who was bumped to the third line in the final period of Game 4, set the tone by scoring 45 seconds into the game, placing the puck into an empty net after Killorn’s shot from the slot deflected off New York defenseman Adam Pelech to Stamkos low in the left circle. Killorn started the rush by winning a puck battle in the neutral zone.

Later in the period, the line was back at it again.

Stamkos forced a Pelech giveaway in the neutral zone and forwarded the puck to Killorn as he entered the offensive zone. Killorn’s shot from the left circle was stopped by goaltender Semyon Varlamov, but Ryan Pulock’s clearing attempt went right to David Savard above the right circle.

Killorn didn’t stop battling after his initial shot was stopped. He went to the net, jabbing for a rebound, then held his ground while surrounded by three Islanders. Which is how his backside happened to be in the path of Savard’s shot, redirecting it off Varlamov’s back and into the net.

Not done yet, Stamkos, on a one-timer from the left circle, and Killorn on a deflection from the slot, added power-play goals in the second period. Moments after retrieving a puck in the right corner, Killorn settled into a spot in front of the net between defenseman Scott Mayfield and goaltender Ilya Sorokin and redirected Victor Hedman’s shot from the point.

Sorokin had no chance. And on this night, neither did the Islanders.

With 34 career playoff goals, Killorn moved ahead of Hall-of-Famer Marty St. Louis into fourth place on the Lightning’s all-time list.

Grade: A-plus

Here’s how we graded the rest of the Lightning’s performance in Game 5:

Pointedly, unstoppable

Brayden Point became only the second player in NHL history to score in eight or more consecutive playoff games with a third-period power-play goal.

Point has a knack for finding the high-scoring areas on the ice, the toughness to fight for that space and the skill to make plays in small spaces. He scored his league-leading 13th goal of the playoffs from — where else? — the slot after a feed from Nikita Kucherov from the right circle.

Only the Flyers’ Reggie Leach, who scored in 10 straight postseason games in 1976, has had a longer playoff goal streak.

Too early to talk Conn Smythe?

Grade: A-plus

Costly penalty

Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta remains down after a hit by Islanders center Mathew Barzal at the end of the second period.
Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta remains down after a hit by Islanders center Mathew Barzal at the end of the second period. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

There’s frustration, and then there’s foolishness.

Mathew Barzal’s actions as the second period came to a close fall into the latter category.

With his team down a half-dozen goals, the Islanders star cross-checked Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta in the face, and Rutta was down on the ice for several minutes before leaving for the locker room.

Barzal received a five-minute major and game misconduct and could face more discipline from the league after Rutta did not return for the third period.

Barzal would be fortunate to get off with a fine.

Grade: D, for dude, seriously?

Just reward

Defenseman Luke Schenn played a strong game as a last-minute replacement for Erik Cernak, who was injured while being checked hard into the end boards by Matt Martin in the third period of Game 4.

Schenn was rewarded for his efforts with his first goal — and point — of the playoffs. His shot from just inside the blue line deflected off Pulock’s right skate and into the net, ballooning the Lightning’s lead to 8-0 with just under eight minutes to play.

Right defensemen are usually known more for their defensive contributions, but Schenn (goal), Savard (two assists) and Rutta combined for three points in the game.

Grade: A

Can’t fool him twice

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) works with defenseman Jan Rutta (44) to stop Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) in the crease during the second period.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) works with defenseman Jan Rutta (44) to stop Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) in the crease during the second period. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy improved to 12-0 following a playoff loss since the start of the 2020 playoffs.

He didn’t have a lot of work to do, finishing with 21 saves, but made a couple of big stops on point-blank opportunities early in the second period to help preserve his fourth career playoff shutout and third this postseason.

Vasilevskiy shut out Dallas in last season’s Cup-clinching win and kept Florida and Carolina off the scoresheet in wrapping up series victories earlier this postseason.

Right along with his puck-tracking, positioning and athleticism, Vasilevskiy’s competitiveness is among the best parts of his game. Whether he has anything to do with a loss or not, he always seems to elevate his game the next time out, and Monday was no different.

Grade: A-plus

• • •

Sign up for Lightning Strikes, a weekly newsletter from Bolts beat writer Eduardo A. Encina that brings you closer to the ice.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.