The Lightning easily punched their ticket to the next round without a much pushback from the New York Islanders. Game 5 was a dominant one for Tampa as they shut out the Isles 4-0.
For the second year in a row, and for the third time in six years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the Eastern Conference Final.
Defenseman Victor Hedman led the offense for Tampa. He scored his first goal of the game at 6:11 in the opening period, and it was a beauty.
Hedman plucks the puck away from Kyle Okposo, and in one single move, spins and scores.
Lighting up 1-0, and it wasn’t going to get any easier for the Islanders.
Five minutes later, Brian Boyle earned his third goal of the playoffs on a fancy puckhandling and spin play of his own, hitting the top corner of the net.
The period ended with the Lightning up 2-0. New York managed only six shots on goal to Tampa’s nine.
As they had done all series, the two teams regularly mixed it up after the whistle. Yet the Islanders were going a step too far and retaliating against the Lightning leading to five Tampa power plays.
Credit to the Islanders for keeping the Lightning off the board with the extra man. They allowed only one power play goal on seven shots against in the five times shorthanded.
The lone power play goal was scored by Hedman, his second tally of the game.
Hedman’s goal gave him 8 points in the five game series against the Islanders.
Most importantly, it gave Tampa a three goal lead as they closed out the second period.
With their season coming down to a final 20 minutes, the Isles turned up the pressure in the third. Ben Bishop faced 22 of his 28 shots in the second and third periods, and turned away all of them.
Johnny Boychuk had the best opportunity at an open net in the first five minutes of the third. Bishop, who was facing the completely wrong direction in the crease, manages to correct himself, and stick out the leg pad to deny Boychuk the empty net.
Try as they might, the Islanders could not score on Bishop.
The Lightning did not let up. They continued to push the play. On multiple occasions, Nikita Kucherov was seen cherry picking at the top of the neutral zone and his teammates did what they could to connect.
It paid in the third as he went in on the breakaway and scored his ninth goal of the playoffs.
Although there were 15 minutes to go at the time of Kucherov’s goal, the 4-0 lead built by Tampa was insurmountable. All that was left was the handshake line.
One of the most noticeable absentees of the game, and the series for that matter, was that of Islanders captain, John Tavares. Coming into the series, he was arguably the hottest scorer left in the playoffs.
Tavares had two points total in the five games against Tampa. Both points came in Game 1; an assist in the first period and a goal in the second. From 8:59 of the second period on, Tavares was held without a point.
The Lightning await the winner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
As far as Tampa is concerned, they’re probably pulling for a Game 7 between those two. The more time they’re playing, the more time Anton Stralman and Steven Stamkos can focus on getting back into game shape to rejoin the team.