The New York Islanders hand the Tampa Bay Lightning their ninth loss of the season thanks to three goals in the first five minutes.
After falling 2-1 to the New York Rangers it was a depressing thought to most New York Islanders fans when they saw the Tampa Bay Lightning were coming to town on the very next day.
If the Islanders couldn’t beat the Rangers how could they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on the very next day?
Coming into the game the Lightning sat with a 35-8-2 record, they had72 points to lead the NHL, held a +60 goal differential, and were 9-1-0 over their last ten. You can see why fans were nervous.
It took five minutes for that anxiety to dissipate.
You can’t ask for a better first period from the Islanders. We’ll get to the goals, one-by-one. But scoring three against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first five minutes was outstanding.
It all started with an Erik Cernak high stick on Matt Martin 20 seconds into the game. On the ensuing power play Jordan Eberle found Brock Nelson alone in the slot who fired it past Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0.
Just over three minutes later Cal Clutterbuck and his buddies on the fourth line put Islanders up by two with a nicely worked goal. The Islanders fourth line would be the best on the night starting with this nice goal.
Just 16 seconds later Devon Toews would make it 3-0 with a blast from the point for his third of the year. Toews is now tied for the lead in goals for Islanders defensemen. He’s played ten games.
Within five minutes it was 3-0 and the Isles didn’t let up with Mathew Barzal denied on a breakaway just a few moments later. It was a pedal to the metal performance for the Islanders. Exactly what they needed against a team that’s weak in the first period.
After that 2-1 let down loss against the New York Rangers this first period was something special.
The Lightning came out flying in the second period. As you’d expect from the league’s best team after being down 3-0 to a team that wasn’t even in the playoffs.
Thomas Greiss stood tall and stopped almost everything the Tampa Bay Lightning threw at him.
And then the fourth line got to work again. Matt Martin with eyes on the back of his head spotted Casey Cizikas on the far side and got the puck to his center man who put in his eleventh goal of the year.
Finally at the 18:21 mark a weak wrist shot by Ryan McDonagh squeaked through Thomas Greiss to cut the Isles lead to 4-1.
Close out the game. That was the Islanders mission going into period three.
The Islanders did just that. They were able to contain the Lightning and add some offense of their own as Josh Bailey added an empty netter to make it 5-1 and kill the game off.
Outside of the empty net goal and the yo-yo game with Lightning coach Jon Cooper and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy the third period was virtually drama free. Exactly what the New York Islanders would have wanted.
Fans of the Game
Before every game we ask fans on Twitter who they think will score the New York Islanders first goal. At the 1:21 mark of the first period, Brock Nelson got the Isles on the board first.
These two fans were the only ones to read the tea leaves and see that Nelson would get his 16th of the season and score first.
1. Thomas Greiss: 38 saves, 0.974SV%
The Isles might have buried three in the first five minutes, but Thomas Greiss closed the door on a strong Lightning effort throughout the night. He stopped 21 shots in the second period alone. Twenty-two!
2. Matt Martin: 2 assists
Martin was probably the best player for both teams on the night. His two primary assists were outstanding, he was drawing penalties, and causing havoc in the Lightning end. It was a perfect game from Martin.
3. Casey Cizikas: 1 goal, 1 assist
What a year Casey Cizikas is having. With the two points he’s on pace for 38 points this season. He and line mates Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck were on their absolute best tonight.