Game Preview: NY Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

MSGSN. 39-30-9. 45-27-6. 23. 7:30 PM. 4/6/23. 106. NYI -115

Last Game

The NY Islanders are coming off a demoralizing 2-1 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes, who is a possible first-round matchup if the Isles make it. The game was a defensive battle, but only for the Islanders because Carolina spent most of the second and third periods in the Isles' defensive zone. Ilya Sorokin did all that he could to steal a victory for New York, making 33 saves on 35 shots. The Islanders only managed 22 shots all game, with J.G. Pageau scoring their only goal with a snipe in the first period. Jesperi Kotkaniemi tied the score midway through the second period with a shot that slowly crossed the line after hitting Sorokin's arm. The game-winner for the Canes came on a 2-on-1 early in the third from Jordan Martinook, roofing one to the top of the net. The Isles simply did not look like a team that's competing for a playoff spot in this game, and they'll need to show new urgency in their last four games of the season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off of a 6-3 loss against the New York Rangers last night at MSG. Alex Killorn made his presence known for the Lightning, scoring one goal and one assist while also catalyzing a huge scrum after spearing Igor Shesterkin after the whistle blew. Brandon Hagel also finished with two points, and defenseman Darren Raddysh netted his first NHL goal in the 12th game of his career. Andrei Vasilevskiy faced 37 shots on the night but only stopped 31. Tyler Motte and Chris Kreider both scored two goals for the Rangers in a win for the Blueshirts.

Historical Matchup

In recent memory, the Islanders have had no answer at all to the Bolts in the regular season. They have lost all six of their last meetings while scoring one goal or less in four of those games. When it comes to this season's games, the Lightning won 5-3 in late October and then 5-0 last Saturday. Brayden Point finished the latter matchup with two assists and added a goal on the power play. Vasilevskiy showed that he is ready for the playoffs, stopping all 38 Islander shots that came his way. Tampa Bay and New York are far too familiar with one another after two recent meetings in the Eastern Conference finals that fell in favor of the Lightning, but the blue and orange will have to exercise their demons and break their losing streak against them to earn an important win before the playoffs.

Players to Watch

Out of any Islander forward that has faced criticism in this last stretch, Bo Horvat may have received the most. It's hard not to say that it's justified considering he only has four points in his last 17 games, which at face value is completely unacceptable after making the big splash for him at the All-Star Break. He is paid 8.5 million against the cap, and a player of that caliber needs to break out of his slump and give the Isles, a team hunting for the playoffs that extra push against a tough opponent. To be fair, Horvat and Mat Barzal showed great chemistry before Barzal ended up getting hurt long-term, and he does do plenty of other things well that the players traded for him would not contribute, but he needs to step up on the scoresheet before passionate fans turn on him for good.

Steven Stamkos has been one of a few players on Tampa Bay that have been on fire lately. Before last night's loss against the Rangers, Stamkos had three goals and six points in their last three games. He has points in eight of his last ten games with four of them being multi-point outings. There's no secret what the former first-overall pick can do on the ice, with his deadly shot and great passing ability. The Lightning captain is up to 80 points this season, over a point-per-game for the sixth time in his past seven seasons. Stamkos, as always, will be a player that the Isles need to watch carefully in what many may consider a must-win game at home.

Projected Lines

Lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff