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I was talking to someone before the game and made the comment this wasn’t going to be a pretty game five, instead this was going to be a knock down drag out fight to the finish. Finesse was not going be a part of game five pitting the Tampa Bay Lightning against the visiting New York Islanders. Over the last two games the Lightning had shown they had the perseverance to score when they absolutely needed to. In this series the Lightning have been able to do what the Florida Panthers couldn’t do. Shutting down John Tavares has been key to why the Lightning had a 3-1 lead coming into tonight’s game.
Both teams came out flying in the opening period of the game neither gaining too much ground. The Lightning had a few shots at goal, but unfortunately the went everywhere except inside the net. New York kept up shot for shot it seemed, but Ben Bishop is being well Ben Bishop stopping every shot in spectacular fashion. Thomas Greiss seemed to be holding his own against the Bolts until Victor Hedman stole the puck right in the slot before spinning around and firing a shot at Greiss that would hit the back of the net for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Following the goal, the Islanders would start getting a little momentum in their favor until Brian Boyle would get a goal of his own which was eerily reminiscent of his game three overtime game winning goal. The Bolts were the team through at least one period who wanted it more with the play.
The hits just kept on coming in the beginning of the 2nd period as there were more bodies flying in this game than a WWE wrestling match. Tampa got a power play after Travis Hamonic was sent to the box for roughing. After a few passes around the zone and some beautiful play control by Jonathan Drouin, Victor Hedman would bury his second goal of the game off a perfect one timer giving the Lightning a 3-0 lead in this elimination game. Not in either period were the Islanders able sustain a long period of time in the Lightning zone. It seemed like they’d get 1 may 2 shots towards the net then lose the puck and go right back on the defensive. With five minutes left in the second the Bolts held a slight advantage in shots on goal 16-13, but the game has been almost all Lightning.
20 minutes remained as they third period began and the Lightning held an imposing lead over the Islanders 3-0. Five minutes gone in the third the Islander would gain the shots on goal advantage 20-19, but Nikita Kucherov would get his playoff lead ninth goal thus giving the Bolts a 4-0 lead in what could be the final game of the series. While the Islanders didn’t get any shots on net the Lightning’s shifts heading to the midway point of the third weren’t their best of the game. Ben Bishop once again came up big for the Lightning in an elimination game sending the Islanders back home to Brooklyn.
Next up for the Lightning: The Eastern Conference Finals against either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh currently leads the series 3-2.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Jonathan Drouin – Continues to get better every single game. Today he set up Victor Hedman’s second goal beautifully.
2nd Star: Victor Hedman – 2 Goals and great defensive play earned him the second star.
1st Star: Ben Bishop – Put up another shut-out in a series deciding game.
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