The Tampa Bay Lightning will host the New York Islanders in Game 5 of their Stanley Cup semifinals battle on Monday night, with both teams seeking an edge in a series that stands tied at two games apiece.
The Islanders will head to Tampa knowing they’ll get to play at Nassau Coliseum at least one more time after a thrilling 3-2 win over the Lightning on Saturday.
Pulock saves Game 4 win for Islanders
The Islanders held onto their slim one-goal lead in the final seconds of Game 4. Tampa Bay’s Ryan McDonagh made a great spinning play to get a shot at an open net as time was running out, but defenseman Ryan Pulock slid over to make the save and preserve the victory.
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Pulock blocked the shot without grabbing or smothering the puck, which would have resulted in a penalty shot.
“That’s kind of the point that gets missed a little bit,” Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield told reporters. “The fact he had the awareness to not do that and just push it off to the side was huge. It’s desperation, it’s desperate hockey. It’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever seen to finish a really important game.”
Even such a stunning finish shouldn’t faze the Lightning, however. Tampa Bay has won all 12 games coming after a postseason loss over the past two seasons. The defending Stanley Cup champions come into Game 5 as a -190 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
“Now it’s the best of three. You have to look ahead,” Tampa Bay center Tyler Johnson told reporters. “We have to learn from our mistakes and play well [for] a full 60 minutes. We got the home ice back. We’ve got to use it to our advantage.”
Trotz says discipline keeping New York in series
The Lightning stand as the -210 favorite to win the series over the Islanders (+170), but New York remains right in the mix. Coach Barry Trotz credits his team’s newly found discipline for much of its success. The Islanders have only faced two short-handed situations over the past two games, which has limited Tampa Bay’s ability to utilize their strong power-play unit, which has scored on 37.8% of its opportunities during the playoffs.
“We have been playing disciplined, we have been playing from whistle to whistle,” Trotz said on Sunday. “We asked them to take a couple things out of [Tampa Bay’s] game and one is the power play. We’re not going to be able to stop it totally, but if we can prevent it from inflicting major damage on us, then we want to do that.”
The Islanders may see Game 5 as particularly critical. New York has won Game 5 on the road in each of its first two playoff series, and the Islanders players say they understand how important it is to do that again.
|Lightning vs. Islanders Odds – Game 5 (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|New York Islanders: +160||Tampa Bay Lightning: -190|
|Islanders (+1.5): -182||Lightning (-1.5): +150|
|Islanders: +170||Lightning: -210|
“Looking back at the Game 5s, I think we might’ve stolen a couple of them, but we’re a confident group,” Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield told reporters. “It’s a three-game series now, and two of the games are on the road. We know what we have to do and just go in there and play our game.”