The New York Islanders managed to keep their momentum going by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 last night in Tampa to take a 1-0 series lead. Shane Prince added two goals and John Tavares came up with the game winning goal again. Travis Hamonic scored his first career playoff goal while Ryan Strome returned to the lineup and assisted on both of Prince’s goals. Tampa Bay pressed in the third period and managed to cut the deficit down to make the score 4-3. Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula but Cal Clutterbuck made it 5-3 with less than a minute to go on an empty-netter. The Islanders continue their series against Tampa on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
My Take: The Isles should take this win and forget about it. Why? Because Tampa was a little late in coming to this party, like they were at the beginning of the season after making a run to the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Isles took advantage racking up four goals after Tampa scored the first goal of the series. When you’re able to get the oppositions goalie yanked, yet your own goalie had to literally save the game for you, it tells me two things: First, the Tampa Bay Lightning without Stamkos and Stralman are going to be difficult to beat from here on out. Second, the team effort must be for a whole game and cannot go back to the regular season where they only showed up for two periods a game or in some cases 5 minutes of the game. The Tampa players that scored: Kucherov, Filppula, Palat are names you don’t want to hear every night and if you do, this is going to be a long series.
There’s a new line that Tampa will be very careful with and that’s Brock Nelson’s. I thought Shane Prince would have been a bigger catalyst in the last series against the Panthers, but I’ll take him now. Strome and Prince seem to have developed some immediate chemistry and it should be interesting if that line blossoms. Once again however, it took John Tavares and Thomas Greiss to hold the fort and carry the Islanders to a victory. It would be nice if Prince can continue his scoring ways, but more importantly it’s going to take a total team effort to keep Tampa only scoring one or two goals every game. The Isles need to continue that aggressiveness for three periods. For now, take the win and move on because Tampa will not be as careless in game two. Lessons learned.