Skip to main content
playoffs

Instant analysis: Islanders at Lightning, Game 5

Tampa Bay wins series, advances to second straight Eastern Conference Final

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight season, eliminating the New York Islanders with a 4-0 win in Game 5 of the second round at Amalie Arena on Sunday.

Defenseman Victor Hedman scored twice, and forwards Brian Boyle and Nikita Kucherov each had a goal. Goaltender Ben Bishop made 28 saves.

Kucherov leads the NHL with nine goals in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games; he had 10 goals in 26 playoff games last year, tied for third in the League.

Bishop also shut out the Detroit Red Wings when the Lightning eliminated them in Game 5 of the first round, after Game 7 shutouts last year against the Red Wings in the first round and New York Rangers in the conference final.

What we learned: The Lightning are a Stanley Cup contender even without captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) and defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured fibula). They still have Hedman, who makes plays all over the ice; Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist; Kucherov and Tyler Johnson, offensive forces; Jonathan Drouin, who has emerged in these playoffs after a tumultuous season; Boyle and Ryan Callahan, gritty vets; Ondrej Palat and Valtteri Filppula, unsung two-way forwards; and a deep defensive corps.

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm5: Hedman scores a pair in Game 5

What this means for the Islanders: The excitement of the franchise's first playoff series win since 1993 gives way to the frustration of a second-round exit. The Islanders felt they were the better team in Games 3 and 4 of this series, but they blew a third-period lead and lost early in overtime in each game, setting up a lopsided loss in Game 5. Captain John Tavares went four games without a point after six goals and five assists in New York's first seven playoff games. The Islanders face uncertainty: Forwards Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin are unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Travis Hamonic has requested a trade for personal reasons so he can be closer to his Manitoba home.

What this means for the Lightning:They took only 10 games to reach the conference final, saving wear and tear, reducing the risk of injury. They will rest while the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals finish their Eastern Conference Second Round series. Stamkos, Stralman and J.T. Brown (upper body) will continue to skate. It's hard to say whether Stamkos could return because of the nature of his injury, but he's within the one-to-three-month window doctors gave after surgery. Lightning coach Jon Cooper hoped Stralman would be ready for Game 4 or 5 of the second round. Stralman wasn't but he could be ready for the conference final. Brown is shooting pucks again, a good sign for him.

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm5: Bishop denies Prince's wrist shot

Key moment: Bishop made a right pad save on a shot from the slot by Islanders forward Shane Prince 6:48 into the first period. If that puck had gone in, the Islanders would have had momentum. The Lightning would have had to come back for the third game in a row. Instead, the Lightning took a 1-0 lead when Hedman scored at 13:49 of the first and poured it on afterward.

Unsung player of the game: Filppula dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 11 of 13 draws, and had a strong scoring chance in 19:32 of ice time.

What's next: The Lightning will play the Penguins or Capitals in the conference final. The Penguins lead that series 3-2.

View More