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Lightning: Aggressiveness helps in overtime

Tampa Bay one win from eliminating Islanders entering Game 5

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper has no real explanation for their success in overtime in the past two games of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the New York Islanders. But he said taking shots sure helps.

The Lightning defeated the Islanders 2-1 in Game 4 on Jason Garrison's goal 1:34 into overtime to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is at Amalie Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). 

"It's kind of worked out for us these last two games," Cooper said Saturday. "I don't know if there's a perfect art to it other than the fact that you have to let your team know that this is not the time to be passing up shots. It sounds like a cliché that there's no such thing as a bad shot but that must have been said 10 times in the locker room before we went out for overtime." 

That approach worked as Garrison scored more than a minute earlier than Brian Boyle did in ending Game 3 with his goal in overtime.

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm4: Garrison's overtime-winning slap shot

Cooper said that getting good shifts early in the overtime could make a difference.

"If there's any way you can come out in your first couple of shifts and have your best shifts possible maybe this could end early," Cooper said. "Because teams have been sitting in the locker rooms for 15 minutes."

Garrison said the Lightning try to have the same energy at the beginning of any period and try to make something happen quickly.

"I don't think it's any different when you come out after resting a bit," Garrison said. "You want to come out and put pressure on the other team right away and establish a forecheck."

Now the Lightning can end a second consecutive series in five games. In the first round against the Detroit Red Wings, the Lightning got 34 saves from Ben Bishop to defeat the Red Wings 1-0 in Game 5.

Garrison said it's important that the Lightning learn from that Detroit game, where they had several defensive breakdowns that led to breakaways and scoring opportunities for the Red Wings. Bishop, however, made big saves. 

"[Winning the fourth game] is the toughest one to get," Garrison said. "We have been in this position before. In the series against Detroit I don't think we played our best. Bishop really stood on his head for us so we learn from that and not try to give away too many chances."

Video: Alex Killorn and Bolts celebrate OT thriller

One area where the Lightning have succeeded in this series is secondary scoring; Jonathan Drouin got his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal in Game 2 and Vladislav Namestnikov scored in Game 3. Their depth has also showed up on defense, where Cooper has used several players to make up for the absence of Anton Stralman (fractured leg).

"We've brought in [Matt] Taormina, [Slater] Koekkoek, [Luke] Witkowski and had [Nikita] Nesterov," Cooper said. "We've gone deep in our depth chart to play a lot of guys that haven't had a ton of playoff experience. They may not be getting mass minutes but they have been effective when they've been out there. You look at Garrison getting the winning goal last night, Boyle getting the winning goal on Tuesday. We're getting great team contributions from everybody."

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