Here are some of the reasons why the New York Islanders were able to win this game.
Ben Bishop had a rare off night. Of the four non empty-net goals scored by the Islanders, two were shots that Bishop normally stops. While the other two were not on Bishop (more on them in a bit), he sometimes stops those types of shots as well. He wasn’t able to tonight.
On the other hand, Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss did not have an off night. Even though he allowed three goals, Greiss was a big factor in the Islanders’ triumph. He made a number of fantastic stops on Lightning scoring chances.
Now, to those other two Islander goals. Late in the first period, the Lightning had two coverage miscues that cost them dearly. On both plays, Shane Prince was left unguarded at or near the front of the net. He buried both chances, breaking open a 1-1 game. The second of Prince’s goals came with less than four seconds left in the period.
How the game unfolded played a role in how the game was played, too. The Islanders, after building their 3-1 lead, were content to sit back, clog up the neutral zone and look for counter opportunities. After firing 12 shots on goal in the first period, the Islanders posted only 10 total shots in the final 40 minutes (and one of those was an empty-netter). But their “clog up the neutral zone” approach helped them counter the Lightning’s speed game. In the first five minutes of the contest, the Lightning successfully attacked the Islanders end and generated chances off the rush. One of those led to Ondrej Palat’s opening goal. Alex Killorn and Palat also had additional in-alone looks, opportunities that would have added to the Lightning’s early advantage. Once the Islanders established a multiple goal lead, however, the Lightning had a harder time generating chances off the rush.
But they still did generate chances, particularly in the third period. Many of those came off extended offensive zone shifts. The Lightning, who fired 17 third period shots on net, did a nice job of cycling pucks, rotating players all over the offensive zone and winning puck battles to maintain possession. That offensive zone pressure eventually led to goals for Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula. Ultimately, though, the 4-1 deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
This Game One home loss puts early pressure on the Lightning to respond in Game Two. They’ll need to be cleaner in their coverage, both off the rush and in the defensive zone. And it would behoove them to not have to play from behind, as they did for much of tonight’s contest.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Prince’s second goal, which came in the final seconds of the first period and extended the Islanders’ lead to 3-1.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Shane Prince – Islanders. Two goals.
2.Thomas Greiss – Islanders. 33 saves.
3.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. Goal.