Before the game tonight, I was weighing pros and cons.
Lightning had a few days off to rest, get over injuries, and refresh for the next round of the playoffs. In addition, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had a .950 save percentage in Round 1 against Detroit, and was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy. The last time Tampa Bay faced New York in the postseason was in 2004 en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
The Isles’ goalie, Thomas Greiss, finished round one with with 41 saves in the team's second straight two-overtime game and third in the series to go past regulation — not bad for someone who is making his first post-season appearance. This year the Bolts are 1-2-0 against New York in the regular season. And lastly, Anton Stralman and team captain Steven Stamkos are out. (Defenseman Stralman fractured his leg and Stamkos had surgery for a blood clot near his collarbone on April 4.) While Stammer hit the ice for the first time yesterday, Stralman has yet to do so. “He’s not even skating right now, so," said Jon Cooper. "We’re hopeful he’ll make an appearance in this series."
At the start of the game, the Bolts came out strong, with Ondrej Palat scoring at 3:05 into the game. Less than 3 minutes later, the Islanders’ Travis Haminoc tied the game; the Lightning fell apart shortly thereafter. Almost immediately following New York’s GOAL, Tyler Johnson was in the penalty box for hooking against Cal Clutterbuck, followed by Alex Killorn for kneeing Dalvin de Haan.
By the end of the 1st period with Shane Prince scoring back-to-back goals, it was 3-1, Isles.
The Lightning’s middle game really suffered. They displayed a lackluster effort in the first two periods.
Not even halfway into the 2nd, Bishop had given up four goals on 12 shots to the Islanders, who, before this season, hadn’t won a playoff series since 1993 — the longest drought in the the NHL. After Bishop was pulled halfway through the 2nd and replaced with Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning found their legs again, made it a game and continued to show a bit of their familiar edge in the third period. It seemed as if they remembered how to behave in the playoffs; hopefully it translates to game 2 Saturday.
But rest turned into rust tonight.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played at Amalie Arena on Saturday at 3 p.m.