There’s no question that the first period of Game 5 was the worst 20 minutes of play for the New York Islanders in the playoffs. The Lightning ran up a 3-0 score in just 15 minutes of play.
It was just atrocious from start to finish for the Isles who were hoping to steal one on the road before heading back home to the Nassau Coliseum.
But like in so many other games the Islanders came out flat on the road and this time they paid a heavy price for it.
New York Islanders play worst opening period in the playoffs
Again, the Islanders have come out flat for the first period before in these playoffs. That’s not something new. But the Islanders weren’t just flat, they were absent both mentally and physically in the first period of Game 5.
Through 20 minutes, not only was Tampa up 3-0 on the score sheet but they had dominated in just about every single aspect of the game:
- 64.86 CF%
- 73.08 SCF%
- 72.73 HDCF%
- 75.79 xGF%
(All stats from NaturalStatTrick)
While Tampa played well in the period the result was about 50% Tampa being good and 50% Islanders being bad.
The first was a lucky bounce that found Stamkos all alone after Adam Pelech made a bad pinch in the neutral zone. The second goal bounced off Andy Greene as he tried to break up a 2-on-1. And the third bounced off of someone in a crowded Islanders crease. Semyon Varlamov was pulled after the third goal but that was hardly the reason for the deficit.
About that 2-on-1, the Islanders allowed an incredible number of odd-man rushes, something the blue and orange don’t typically allow.
The Islanders were losing every board battle, they weren’t skating hard, and they didn’t seem committed at all. And Tampa pounced on them for it.
Finding three goals in 40 minutes is certainly possible, but the Isles have struggled to score in this series. It’s going to take a heck of an effort for the Isles to level this one. Again, not impossible, but it’s going to be one hell of a steep hill to climb after their worst first period in these playoffs.