This was exactly the way the Lightning wanted to start this five-game road trip. They certainly had the Islanders' number this season - they won all three games in the season series by a combined 14-2 score.
In each of the three contests, the Lightning jumped out to a first period lead, something they've only done in one other game so far this season. But that's not to say that all three games were identical. In this one, the first period was pretty even, at least until the final 62 seconds. Up until that point, the game was scoreless and the Islanders might have had a slight edge in terms of scoring chances generated.
The complexion of the game changed, however, when J.T. Brown finished a breakaway at 18:58. After Braydon Coburn cleared the puck out of the Lightning's defensive zone, Cedric Paquette picked it up at center ice. The Islanders failed to account for Brown, who burst up the middle of the ice. Paquette slid him the puck and Brown finished his chance past the stick of Jaroslav Halak. The Lightning added another goal at 19:40 when Ryan Callahan tipped in a right point shot from Andrei Sustr. Incredibly, the Lightning almost scored again before the period ended, but Nikita Kucherov's breakaway shot hit off the bottom of the crossbar, bounced off the goal line and stayed out.
The Lightning dominated the second period, outshooting the Isles, 17-4. Shot attempts were 30-7. The Islanders helped create this Lightning advantage when they took four penalties in the opening 11:28 of the frame. Even though the Lightning didn't score on any of those power plays, they applied consistent pressure and built momentum from the opportunities. The Lightning posted 10 of their second period shots during those four power plays. Also, the successive penalties kept the Isles from applying any pressure and finding a way to get back in the game.
Within a minute of the final power play ending, the Lightning finally added to their lead - and they did it in spectacular fashion. Kucherov stole the puck at his own blue line and countered in a three-on-three. He and Steven Stamkos crisscrossed in the offensive zone and completed a perfect give-and-go. The Isles lost coverage on Kucherov, who finished the return feed from Stamkos into an open side of the net. Before the period ended, they executed another beautiful passing play. Kucherov took the puck into the offensive zone, wheeled to the left circle and wired a pass to Stamkos, who came flying into the zone. The Islanders defenders converged towards Stamkos, who fed Vladdy Namestnikov at the side of the net for another tap-in goal.
The Islanders did try to make a push in the final period. Down 4-0, they posted 20 shots on goal (the most the Lightning have allowed in a period so far this year). But Andrei Vasilevskiy was solid in stopping them all. Several were scoring chances, but one never got the sense that the Islanders were about to mount a comeback. Their best chance came when they received a five-on-three power play lasting nearly a minute, but Vasilevskiy made several key saves and Callahan provided an important block.
Lightning players have talked about getting some consistency to their game, which would allow them to potentially go on a run. They played very well tonight and they'll look for a similar type of performance when they complete this back-to-back on Tuesday in Detroit against a rested Red Wings team.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Brown's opening goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Nikita Kucherov - Lightning. Goal and assist.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 34-save shutout.
- Steven Stamkos - Lightning. Two assists.