Depending on whether your views are pessimistic or optimistic, there are two ways to look at the larger picture of the Lightning’s game 3 overtime thriller Tuesday against the Islanders in their second-round series, which continues with game 4 tonight.
The optimist will look at the final score from Tuesday and say experienced teams can find a way to win. They don’t panic with less than a minute left, but rise to the occasion.
The pessimist? The pessimist is uneasy about a glaring trend despite rising to the occasion.
Going into game 3, the Lightning had not won in regulation on the road at Barclays Center (and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, let’s not forget) dating back nine previous contests against the Islanders. Their lone trip to Brooklyn this season resulted in a 5-2 loss. Now, the Lightning’s road record over the Islanders is 2-9-1, with still zero wins in regulation.
So should we be worried about that? Depends on your outlook.
The narrative for game 4 shouldn’t necessarily be whether the Lightning can put the Isles on the brink of elimination, but instead a question of how will the Islanders respond? They have yet to lose back-to-back games in these playoffs. Not to mention the fact that they gave up two third-period leads and had been several dozen seconds from taking game 3. Something’s gotta give in game 4… but then again, the Lightning may win but not do it in regulation. Good teams find a way to win.
Having game 4 be in Brooklyn again could mean that the ugliness from game 3 that started in warm-ups until the end of the game may carry over. And Isles fans’ collective hatred is on Brian Boyle, but there’s history between them due to his time with the Rangers. Imagine what it must’ve been like to have that guy you hate pierce your heart with an overtime goal, mere moments after a hit that you swear was dirty. We have some evidence: there’s this guy, and this guy and supposedly Boyle had beer thrown on him (real original, throwing beer at Boyle) and we know Isles coach Jack Capuano still wasn’t over it the following day.
For the record, Lightning broadcaster Dave Mishkin doesn’t believe momentum carrying over game by game, but what about emotions?
This is all setting up to be quite an entertaining game 4, but for some unknown, unexplained reason, ticket prices to tonight’s game are dropping, with Newsday reporting that a ticket to the game was as low as $81 late Thursday.
We don’t yet know how many, if any, casualties there are from the Bolts’ Bieber fever, but there are updates for the players on both sides who have been sidelined. Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman and J.T. Brown, and the Isles’ Jaro Halak and Anders Lee remain completely out. Pulock, out for the Isles since Game 5 of the first round, may be inserted back on the blue line, according to Newsday. He left today's morning skate early while Marek Zidlicky did not, so this likely signals which player won't be playing. Ryan Strome was in the coach’s doghouse and he blames the Newsday writer for the Game 3 loss. Whatever makes him sleep better at night. Whether Strome remains out tonight is another question. He wasn't at practice this morning, and so could be in, according to Newsday. Or he could stay out. It's a guessing game in the playoffs. Thomas Hickey, who took the hit from Brian Boyle before the game-winner, should be ready to go. For the Lightning, Joe Smith is reporting that both Erik Condra and Matt Carle may return tonight, but on the heels of a victory, do you fix what ain’t broke? More encouraging news is Brown "using a full stick for the first time," Smith wrote.
Vladislav Namestnikov may be the one to watch in tonight’s game and not just because of the fact that he was the only guy to spend real money on a Biebs shirt at a Justin Bieber concert. He made the most of his extra minutes after Jonathan Drouin was knocked out of the time, and scored a goal after being elevated to Val Filppula’s line.
Jon Cooper’s key to tonight’s game? Have a better start.
- Tampa Bay Lightning official game preview
- New York Islanders official game preview
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