If the Tampa Bay Lightning were to advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night, they were going to have to do so without Brayden Point. Tampa Bay’s most productive player did not come out for warmups before game 5. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper announced that Point would be taking care of the injury he sustained in game 4. It was the second game missed for point in this series. And just as they did in game 3 when Point was out, the New York Islanders capitalized.
Islanders cash in on early power play
The first chance with the man advantage went to the Lightning. Cal Clutterbuck was called for slashing Kevin Shattenkirk at 5:01 of the 1st period. Tampa Bay put together a well organized and effective power play. Though unable to score, the Lightning managed 6 shot attempts and 3 on goal.
Later in the period, it was New York’s turn on the power play. Nikita Kucherov was sent to the box for tripping Brock Nelson. To this point, the Islanders had only managed 2 shots on goal. However, they made the most of a golden opportunity to take a 1st period lead. With 30 seconds to go on the advantage, Nick Leddy set up Ryan Pulock just outside the left circle. Pulock buried the one timer to put his team up 1-0. The score remained the same after 20 minutes.
Hedman continues chasing history
Entering game 5, Victor Hedman had scored 7 goals in the 2020 playoffs. 4 minutes into the second period, Hedman picked up number 8. Blake Coleman put a shot on Semyon Varlamov that appeared to be designed for a rebound. However, it was Yanni Gourde that Coleman expected to play the rebound. With Gourde overskating a bit and unable to corral the puck, Hedman followed right behind him to convert and get Tampa Bay on the board.
Only 4 defensemen in NHL history have scored more goals in a single playoff year than Victor Hedman. He now trails only Paul Coffey (12 in 1985), Brian Leetch (11 in 1994), Brad Park (9 in 1978) and Bobby Orr (9 in 1970).
Victor Hedman, everybody. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/cyNvktpxd2
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 16, 2020
Verhaeghe appears to give Lightning the lead, but upon further review…
Later in the period, there was a brief moment of excitement for the Bolts. After winning a puck battle in the corner of the Islanders zone with Scott Mayfield, Cedric Paquette dished a pass to a wide open Carter Verhaeghe who was skating in toward Varlamov. Verhaghe did not waste the chance and fired a shot into the net to put Tampa Bay up 2-1. However, Islanders coach Barry Trotz challenged the play for offside. Video review confirmed that not only did Paquette enter the zone offside, but he was a solid 4-5 feet ahead of the puck when he crossed the blue line.
A big moment for the Lightning in the 2nd period came in the form of the penalty kill. Paquette was called for holding against Matt Barzal and things got pretty interesting quickly. The Islanders pulled Varlamov for a 6 on 5 opportunity on the delayed penalty and skated for 1:20 before the Lightning were able to touch the puck. This tense moment was followed by a much needed penalty kill and the score remained deadlocked at 1 heading into period 3.
Penalty kill unit called upon early in third, but power play gets a chance late
It didn’t take long for a Lightning player to find his way to the penalty box in the 3rd period. Just 44 seconds in, Blake Coleman was called for interference setting up an early power play chance for the Islanders. This Islanders power play was part of a 12 minute stretch of the game where they did not register a single shot on goal.
After the successful penalty kill, momentum shifted back and forth with each goaltender remaining strong. An extended offensive zone shift for the Islanders saw Mikhail Sergachev on the ice for over 2 minutes, but that storm was weathered also.
Following the initial Lightning power play in the 1st period, the next 3 chances went the way of the Islanders. It wasn’t until there was 1:23 left in the game that Tampa Bay was awarded another power play. And it was a big one.
Anthony Beauvillier was penalized for high sticking, but the penalty was called a 4 minute double minor due to the hit drawing blood. New York killed off the first 1:23 of the power play and the game headed into a 3rd intermission, with overtime pending.
Jordan Eberle saves Islanders from elimination in OT2
The Islanders penalty killed delivered in a big way, finishing off the double minor unscathed. Both teams created scoring chances throughout overtime, each desperate for a goal. Shots went high, wide, and found posts along with both goalies standing tall.
20 extra minutes was not enough, and a 2nd overtime period was needed. Following a face-off in the offensive zone, a fanned Kevin Shattenkirk shot led to a 2 on 1 opportunity for the Islanders. Anders Lee connected with Jordan Eberle who connected at 12:30 of OT2, winning game 5 for the New York.
Final notes and thoughts
For the Islanders, they once again capitalized on an opportunity to beat a Lightning team without their top offensive weapon. The win also saved their season for the time being, forcing a game 6 on Thursday night. For the Lightning, the defeat marks their 5th straight in Eastern Conference Final clinching opportunities. The Bolts dropped games 6 and 7 of the 2016 and 2018 ECF’s after holding 3-2 leads in each. They must now wait at least 2 more days to win the 3rd Eastern Conference Championship in team history.
3 stars of the game
- Jordan Eberle – Saved the Islanders season (for now)
- Victor Hedman – Continues to come through when offense is lacking in other areas
- Semyon Varlamov – 36 saves on 37 shots
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