The New York Islanders were off their game from the opening faceoff on Monday night in Tampa and were obliterated 8-0 as a result.
Coming off a hard-fought Game Four win, the New York Islanders found themselves on the wrong side of a lopsided result in Tampa on Monday night.
Here are three takeaways from the blowout loss.
1. The Islanders Dreadful First Period Doomed Them
The old saying goes you can’t win a game in the first period, but you can certainly lose one. The Islanders’ first-period performance doomed them in Game Five before they ever had a chance to find their footing in the contest.
When the Islanders are on their game they’re clogging lanes, making smart, safe decisions, and disrupting their opponents’ zone exits and entries. We saw none of that early in Game Five, and Tampa Bay’s first two goals illustrate that perfectly.
There was a lot of talk about bad puck luck on the first two Lightning goals, but that seems to be a pretty disingenuous way of looking at things. The Islanders’ sloppy decisions created Tampa’s luck.
On the first goal, scored by Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, the mistake wasn’t one made in the defensive zone but rather in the neutral zone.
Fresh onto the ice after a D zone faceoff, Kyle Palmieri had an easy chance to rim a puck around the glass or dump it to the weak side and allow linemate J-G Pageau to chase it down. Instead, he opted to softly chip it off the near-side wall in an attempt to give Travis Zajac a chance to scoop up an area pass.
Instead, Tampa defenseman Jan Rutta got to the loose puck first, swung it back into the neutral zone and the Lightning easily entered the Islanders zone on a 3v4 situation. Stamkos ended up with the puck on his stick, and it wound up in the Islanders net just 45 seconds into the first.
On the second goal, it was more of the same sloppy mistakes with the puck. Leo Komarov found himself with an easy opportunity to get the puck across his blue line, but opted to hold onto the puck, and was checked off it. From there, Tampa’s Yanni Gourde carried it low and attempted a cross-crease pass which redirected behind Semyon Varlamov off a sliding Andy Greene.
In isolation, you could make the argument that Tampa’s first two goals were solely the result of good fortune. With context, we can see that they were a combination of some random good fortune and Islanders mistakes that created the opportunity for some lucky bounces to go Tampa’s way.
Regardless, the Islanders lost a game. That’s it. One single game. Whether the score was 1-0 or 8-0 it still counts the same, and that means this is still a series. Don’t give up on this team yet, there may yet be enough magic left in them and the old barn in Uniondale to force a Game Seven.