Islanders fans packed The Barn for a viewing party to watch their team play Game 5 in Tampa Bay. After an exhilarating finish to Game 4, they were hoping for more good vibes tonight.
It’s a good thing they were there were just watching a screen and not the actual players.
The New York Islanders were completely embarrassed and shut out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5, losing 8-0. It was their worst playoff loss in franchise history, and one of their most lopsided defeats as of late. The Islanders showed no signs of life, as they gave up needless turnovers and made foolish mistakes. It was not the game anyone was expecting–especially after Game 4’s great finish.
Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each finished with two goals, as six different Tampa players got on the scoresheet. Additionally, while Semyon Varlamov earned the start for the Isles, he was replaced by Ilya Sorokin late in the first period.
Dreadful Start for the Islanders
When the first period started with two quick shots on Varlamov, you could tell how the rest of the 20 minutes would pass.
Those opening shots set the stage for the first goal of the game. Stamkos scored it–just 45 seconds in. The Isles turned over the puck to the Lightning, who responded with a quick counterattack. Stamkos, attacking from Varlamov’s right, centered it to Killorn. His shot was blocked, and the puck took a fortuitous bounce right back to Stamkos. Everyone was caught off-guard as he easily scored his sixth goal of the playoffs.
It didn’t end there. Almost halfway through, the Lightning struck again. Leo Komarov and Jean-Gabriel Pageau were both unable to clear the puck and end the offensive threat. Noticing this, Yanni Gourde found the loose puck and went hard on goal. He passed to Barclay Goodrow on his right but Andy Greene, trying to break up the play, got in the way and the puck deflected off him.
It didn’t end there either. After getting the assist on the first goal, Killorn got his own goal with just five minutes left. The Isles won a face-off in the offensive zone, but it went back out to center ice. Ryan Pulock, who made an all-time save in Game 4, was unable to clear the puck and Tampa quickly had an odd-man rush. They were on the attack once again when a David Savard long-range effort bounced off the back of Killorn and went into the net. Even though the goals weren’t entirely his fault, Varlamov was taken out and Sorokin took his place. The Isles finished down 3-0.
From Bad to Worse in the Second
Unfortunately, the Islanders’ luck did not change. In fact, early in the second period, they hit the post three times within the span of 20 seconds. Brock Nelson, who took two of those shots, took out his frustration on Jan Rutta and was called for hooking. It was Tampa’s first power play of the night and the first of five power plays in that period alone.
It was a scary penalty kill for the Isles for multiple reasons. The first scary moment came when Sorokin saved a shot by Nikita Kucherov. It was a high shot that hit Sorokin in the neck. Trainers came out to look at him and, despite looking like he might come out, he stayed in the game. The second scary moment came shortly thereafter, with Tampa still on the power play. Stamkos scored his second goal of the game, a slap shot from the center of the circle to Sorokin’s left. The Lightning had a great passing rhythm when Victor Hedman set the puck on a platter for Stamkos.
Later in the period, the Lightning scored two more goals within two minutes of each other. The first came from Ondrej Palat, who redirected a long-range shot on goal from Savard. The Lightning had just won a face-off in the offensive zone and took advantage. The second goal came from Killorn, his second of the night and another power-play goal for Tampa. Hedman was in the center and unleashed a shot on goal. Killorn, who was screening Sorokin, redirected the shot in the net. The Isles finished the period down 6-0.
It was not without some drama, however. Mat Barzal, clearly frustrated, cross-checked Rutta as time expired. Rutta went down and Barzal was given both a five-minute major and a game misconduct. He was ejected for the rest of the game and can still be fined and/or suspended.
No Respite in the Third
By the start of the third period, the game was already over. The Isles were down 6-0, Barzal was out of the game and Sorokin couldn’t help to stop the bleeding. Despite this, the Lightning went and put the final nails in the coffin with two more goals.
The first came from Brayden Point, who became just the second player to score in eight straight playoff games. It was a power-play goal, the Lightning’s third of the night. Stamkos, Kucherov and Point completed the tic-tac-toe to make it 7-0 with 18 minutes remaining. Point is the third center to score 12+ goals in consecutive playoffs. The other two? Mario Lemieux in 1991-1992 and Wayne Gretzky in 1984-1985.
Luke Schenn, the veteran, scored the final goal of the game for his first of the playoffs. He was all the way out by the blue line when he decided to take a shot. Pulock, who capped off Game 4 in dramatic fashion, capped off this game in the opposite way. Schenn’s shot deflected off of Pulock’s right skate and into the net. After that, the final eight minutes saw an Isles side defeated and dejected. Shortly before that last goal, however, Jordan Eberle was hit with a shot from Pulock. It seemed to be in the stomach area and he struggled to return to the bench. It is still unknown whether or not he’ll be ready for Game 6.
Looking Ahead for the Islanders
The Islanders will be back in The Barn on Wednesday night for Game 6 in what could be the last time. Hopefully, fans will recognize this and pack the place, despite the horrendous performance tonight. The Isles will need the fans’ energy if they want any chance of bouncing back and taking the series to Game 7.
Great teams bounce back from terrible performances. They learn to forget the past and just keep moving forward.
If anyone can help the Isles with this, it’s Barry Trotz. He’ll have his work cut out for him, but he won’t be alone–the fans will have his and the players’ backs. The Islanders are returning home and there’s no better place to restart than there. It’s a must-win game and the Isles will have to have short-term memory if they want to win it.