3 Keys: Lightning at Islanders, Game 4 of Semifinals


The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to extend their series lead in the Stanley Cup Semifinals in Game 4 against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.

Tampa Bay defeated New York 2-1 in Game 3 on Thursday and has held a 2-1 lead in each of its three best-of-7 series in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“In the third, probably the first 12 minutes, we were flip-happy and content on just getting pucks out instead of doing what we did that last four or five minutes, (which) was attack the game and put them on their heels,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You can get away with that at times when you have the lead, but we need to be better than that if we’re going to have any chance tonight because I know the Islanders are going to be better.”

Teams that take a 3-1 lead are 69-1 (.986) winning a best-of-7 NHL semifinal series. The Islanders trailed 2-1 in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs but rallied to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, each in six games.

“This series not over,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “In a lot of ways, to me, it’s getting started.”

Here are 3 keys for Game 4:

1. More from second line

The Islanders second line of Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey has played a huge role in this return to the third round of the playoffs, but the three failed to generate much offensively Thursday.

Beauvillier has gone eight consecutive games without a goal and has not scored a point in the past four, and Bailey has not scored a goal in four straight. Nelson scored in Game 2, but did not have a shot on goal in Game 3, in which the line combined for two shots on goal.

“Yeah, not a great night,” Nelson said. “Space is tough out there and tough to generate chances. Obviously, they’ve got a good team, good D-corps. They’re tracking back hard, and (Lightning goalie Andrei) Vasilevskiy makes the saves when they need.” 

2. Road warriors

The Lightning have won four consecutive games on the road and are 6-1 this postseason. They’ve allowed three goals during their road winning streak and have led going into the third period in all four.

“I don’t know if there’s one big reason, but I think we do play a simpler game on the road,” Tampa Bay forward Barclay Goodrow said. “I think we don’t try to get super cute with our plays. I think we’re playing in straight lines, and I think that’s what you need in (the) playoffs, whether it’s on the road or at home. When we’re playing in that straight-line game, we’re pretty effective.”

3. Keep Point off score sheet

Lightning center Brayden Point has a six-game goal streak and has scored in eight of his past nine games. He leads the NHL with 11 goals this postseason. Point gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead in Game 3 with 20 seconds left in the second period, two seconds after a power play expired following an interference penalty on Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech. 

“We’re trying to keep that line (Point, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov) off, but it’s not the easiest task,” Trotz said. “But I thought last game, we did a [heck] of a job and gave us an opportunity. If you look at the goal that Point did score, really technically, it’s almost a power-play goal because really Pelech just got on the ice and had no effect on the play, just a second or two right after it did finish. 

“We did a really good job 5-on-5 against that line, just as we’ve done against the (Patrice) Bergeron line (against the Bruins) and keeping them in check on the power play. We’ve got to continue to do that.”

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov

Alex KillornAnthony CirelliSteven Stamkos

Barclay Goodrow — Yanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Ross ColtonTyler JohnsonPat Maroon

Victor HedmanJan Rutta

Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevDavid Savard

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Alex Barre-Boulet, Mathieu Joseph, Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Gemel Smith, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Fredrik Claesson, Cal Foote, Luke Schenn, Ben Thomas, Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin

Injured: None

Islanders projected lineup

Leo KomarovMathew BarzalJordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Kyle PalmieriJean-Gabriel PageauTravis Zajac

Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Adam PelechRyan Pulock

Nick LeddyScott Mayfield

Andy GreeneNoah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

Scratched: Cole Bardreau, Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, Anatoli Golyshev, Simon Holmstrom, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Dmytro Timashov, Oliver Wahlstrom, Sebastian Aho, Samuel Bolduc, Braydon Coburn, Thomas Hickey, Grant Hutton, Bode Wilde, Ken Appleby, Cory Schneider

Injured: Michael Dal Colle (undisclosed)

Status report

Rutta and Cernak participated in the morning skate and are expected to play after Cooper said each sustained “some stingers” in the third period Thursday. … Trotz declined to reveal any potential lineup changes. Wahlstrom, a forward, could play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury in Game 5 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 24. “You’re going to have to watch the game,” Trotz said. “They’re all available.”

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