With Anton Stralman injured in Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, the Lightning recalled Luke Witkowski from the Syracuse Crunch. Head coach Jon Cooper commented that Witkowski wouldn’t play during the morning media session. However, Witkowski took the ice for warm-ups. Witkowski ended up being scratched along with Stralman and the still injured Jonathan Drouin.
To start the game, the lines and defensive pairings were as follows:
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Alex Killorn
Brayden Point - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Brian Boyle - Cedric Paquette - J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr
Jason Garrison - Nikita Nesterov
Slater Koekkoek - Braydon Coburn
The first seven minutes of the period started with a decent pace with the Lightning controlling play early and blocking a number of shots in the early going. The shot differential was three to two in favor of the Lightning. As the 12:50 mark of the period, the New York Islanders were called for a Too Many Men penalty giving the Lightning the first power play opportunity of the game.
The Lightning sent out the Stamkos unit to start the power play and managed to pick up shots from Stamkos and Hedman. The second unit saw Nesterov manning the point with Stralman out. In the past, Garrison had often gotten the next opportunity on the power play. However, Nesterov has fairly good offensive instincts and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck from the point. He managed to shoot a couple times, but missed the net or was blocked. The second unit added another shot on goal on a nice set up of Alex Killorn in the slot before the penalty expired.
Almost two minutes after the Lightning’s power play expired, Namestnikov was called for an interference penalty as he got tangled up with Jason Chimera. The Lightning allowed some solid chances by the Isles, but were able to manage the penalty kill without allowing a goal continuing their proficiency on the penalty kill. The Lightning entered the game 8th in the NHL with an 86% penalty kill percentage.
After the Islanders power play, they continued to build momentum and turned around the shot differential. With just about a minute to go in the game, Coburn softly chipped the puck out of the zone for Paquette in the neutral zone. Paquette made it up to the Islanders blue line and passed the puck in to the middle. Brown was busting it hard down the middle and picked up the bouncing puck. He settled it down just in time to snap the puck past Jaroslav Halak’s blocker making it 1-0 with 1:02 remaining in the period. Paquette and Coburn got the assists on the goal.
It only took 42 seconds for the Lightning to find the back of the net once again. Hedman picked up the puck from Point who was battling along the board. The puck hit an Isles defender and came out towards Sustr who was at the right point. Sustr moved in and slapped the puck at the net from the top of the right circle. Seeing Sustr moving for the puck, Callahan moved in front of Halak to provide a screen. The puck went in off of Callahan. Sustr was credited with the lone assist on the goal.
Not to be outdone, Kucherov made his own bid for a first period goal with a break away down the right side. He drove past the defender and roofed the puck past Halak. He skated around the net and began celebrating thinking the puck had gone in. Unfortunately, it clanged off the bottom of the crossbar and stayed out. The Lightning went into the first intermission up 2-0.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to get another power play chance as Chimera was given a double minor for high sticking. He was skating with his stick up looking away from Paquette, but then lifted his stick up into Paquette’s face and under his visor. He cut Paquette, who immediately went to the locker room, and gave the Lightning a four minute power play.
The Lightning generated several good chances in the first half of the power play but were unable convert as they weren’t able to cash in on some rebound opportunities. The Lightning continued to look dangerous in the second half of the power play and managed 6 shots on goal.
Brown caught Tavares with his head down and hit him with a clean hit in the slot going shoulder to shoulder with Tavares. The Islanders took exception to the hit, and Ryan Strome and Scott Mayfield both went after Brown, with Mayfield fighting Brown. Both would get five minute majors for fighting, but Mayfield would get a minor and a misconduct for Instigating the fight. This would give the Lightning their fourth power play of the night.
The Lightning weren’t able to manage much on the power play this time only getting a couple solid chances and only one shot on goal. Vasilevskiy was the subject of a dangerous three-on-two play with Brock Nelson being able to set up in front of the net. Koekkoek took the first man and pushed him out wide forcing the puck back to the other side where Filppula was defending. Filppula forced his man outside and Vasilevskiy made the save gobbling up the rebound.
With eight and a half minutes to go in the second, the Lightning would pick up their fifth power play of the night as the Islanders continued their undisciplined play. Vasilevskiy came out to play the puck behind the net, mishandled it a bit but maintained control. Hedman was coming in to support him and Strome got his stick up high and hit Hedman in the visor.
The Lightning started off this power play with some energy and quickly produced a shot from the slot for Killorn. Johnson made a nifty move after carrying the puck in and passed the puck into the middle. The puck was deflected away from Palat but made it to Namestnikov for a good chance that was blocked in front. The Islanders continued their perfect penalty kill denying the Lightning.
Just a couple shifts after the power play, Kucherov entered the zone with Stamkos and Boyle. Kucherov and Stamkos crossed in the high slot with Kucherov going left and Stamkos to the right. Kucherov dropped off the puck to Stamkos with Boyle charging to the net. The two defenders closed in on Boyle allowing Kucherov to swing wide. Stamkos passed the puck back to Kucherov and there was no doubt as he slid it into the open side of the net to put the Lightning up 3-0. The lone assist went to Stamkos.
The “Stamkov” line continued to produce to the end of the period. Kucherov found the puck in the neutral zone and drove in to the left wing side. He passed the puck across to Stamkos who was coming in to the zone hot. With Halak having to challenge Stamkos and respect his ability as a shooter, Stamkos was able to put the puck on Namestnikov’s stick for a one touch move into the back of the net to go up 4-0 with just over three minutes to go in the second period. Two defenders were also caught staring at Stamkos and left Namestnikov wide open and unchallenged. Namestnikov snapped a nine game goal drought with the goal.
Man, these guys are good. Kucherov and Stamkos working their magic again, setting up a Namestnikov goal. pic.twitter.com/Yrp7lziIty— Above The Fold (@sportsatf) November 15, 2016
Lightning finished a dominating period by scoring two more goals and leading the shot totals 17-4. The Islanders have continued their undisciplined play from their last match up with the Lightning by committing five minor penalties through the first two periods.
The Islanders came out with a little more jump in the third period trying to pick up some momentum early. Down 4-0, the defense began to take more chances rushing the puck and pinching into the play, but the Lightning and Vasilevskiy held firm through the first five minutes of the period.
Point had a turnover on a blind pass in his own zone giving up a two-on-one with Koekkoek back defending and Sustr busting back to get back into the play. Koekkoek played the shooter and laid out to take away the pass forcing the shot from out wide. The shot went wide and the Lightning continued on. Through the first six minutes of the third period, the Islanders led the shot totals 6-1.
With just over 13 minutes left in the third period, the Islanders got their second power play opportunity of the night as Cedric Paquette was called for a hooking minor. The Islanders had trouble controlling the puck and the boo birds rained down from the Brooklyn crowd. Just over a minute into the power play, Coburn was hit with a delay of game penalty. Coburn and Cooper were not happy as it appeared the puck hit the glass before going out. The ref refused to consult with his fellow officials and gave the Islanders a five-on-three power play.
Boyle, Callahan, and Garrison were sent out on the five-on-three and they had a heroic performance blocking multiple shots and not making it easy for the Islanders on the five-on-three. The sequence ended with a puck getting popped up high and Vasilevskiy grabbing the puck out of the air before it could drop down. The Lightning killed off the Paquette penalty.
The Islanders continued of the power play with Coburn in the box for delay of game but couldn’t generate much on the remaining power play. The Islanders had trouble controlling the puck and getting it in and failed to get another shot on goal after the five-on-three penalty ended.
The Islanders continued to push and while the Lightning generated a handful of more chances as the period continued on, the Islanders closed the shots on goal gap. Score effects well well in play as the Lightning sat back a little bit on a 4-0 lead and the Islanders pushed harder with the defense taking plenty of chances.
With a minute forty to go in the period, Kucherov took a shot on goal from a wide angle and then was hit late and high by Hickey after the play. Kucherov took exception and took a shot at Hickey. Cal Clutterbuck piled in and took a shot at Kucherov as well. However, the refs made a poor decision in only giving a penalty to Kucherov giving the Islanders another power play and a chance to break Vasilevskiy’s shut out.
The Islanders put on pressure in the power play, but Vasilevskiy stood tall and shut the Islanders down to finish out the game and seal the shut out, the third of his career. The Lightning will take on the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit tomorrow as they continue on their five-game road trip.