The Lightning’s biggest problem area in this game was rush coverage. The Islanders scored all five of their goals either a) off the rush or b) moments after an initial dangerous rush was thwarted. Their issues in that area, which were extensive and costly, took away from many of the other good things they did. It’s true that the Islanders decisively controlled play after going up 5-2 early in the third. But up until that point, the Lightning had done a good job of winning puck battles, putting shots on net and generating scoring chances. Unfortunately, they were not as efficient at converting on those chances, another reason why they lost this game.
Specifically, the game swung to the Islanders during a five minute and 15 second span in the second period. Matt Martin used his speed to turn a two-on-two rush into a breakaway. He scored to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Just over four minutes later, after Cedric Paquette couldn’t finish an in-alone chance and Ryan Callahan’s stick was slashed as he battled for the rebound, Nikolay Kulemin sprung Brock Nelson on another breakaway. Nelson roofed his shot over Ben Bishop’s glove to make it 3-1. Less than a minute after that, John Tavares converted a three-on-two rush during an Islanders power play. Although Victor Hedman scored a late second period goal to cut the deficit to 4-2, the Lightning would get no closer.
Such a leaky performance on rush coverage is unusual for the Lightning. They have not allowed many odd-man rushes this year. Clearly, it’s an area they’ll need to clean up when they face the Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Nelson’s goal to give the Isles a 3-1 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.John Tavares – Islanders. Goal and two assists.
2.Victor Hedman – Lightning. Goal.
3.Anders Lee – Islanders. Six shots.