I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about the goals because they aren’t as important as the craziness that occurred during the second period. However, before that craziness happened the first 20 minutes of this game was all Tampa Bay. The Lightning dominated the Islanders and it seemed as though they had forgotten they were playing in a professional hockey game. I’m not kidding, Tampa Bay absolutely clobbered New York to a tune of 11 shots to two, and two goals to none. By far, the most dominant period the Lightning have put forth all season.
Unfortunately, my tweet must have pissed the Islanders off because the second period was the most bizarre one I’ve seen in a while.
NOTE: I did provide a forewarning for the trouble to come...
Joking aside, #TBLightning need to keep their foot on the gas. #Isles aren't going to just sit back and get throttled all night. Can't allow complacency to kick in. Tampa has had problems with 2 goal leads this season. #GoBolts— Matthew Esteves (@mattesteves89) December 6, 2017
The second period came and for 15 minutes the New York Islanders made the Lightning look like children on the ice. All the positive things Tampa Bay had done in the first period were suddenly gone, and the Islanders did whatever they pleased. New York’s Matthew Barzal (who is unbelievably impressive) got the Isles on the board with a beautiful backhanded goal on the power-play, and then under two minutes later, he set up Jordan Eberle for the tying goal. The next ten minutes was nothing more than New York dominating Tampa Bay. Andrei Vasilevskiy had to make a plethora of saves just to keep the game tied.
Luckily, Tampa Bay managed to create a smidgen of offensive pressure late in the period and was given a power play. The first unit came on the ice and didn’t really provide any kind of spark, but once the second unit of Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, and Mikhail Sergachev got out there, the power play unit finally began to click.
Sergachev fired a one-timer from the point that went wide and bounced off the boards and right onto the stick of Gourde. Gourde promptly lofted the puck past Thomas Greiss to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead with 3:38 left in the period.
Now, the remaining time of the second period and the events that occurred were the most “WT* is happening” moment of the season.
Seriously, Tampa was getting dominated for 80% of the second period and once Gourde scored the entire game got flipped on its head—again. Gourde scored his second of the game 1:34 after his first and then Namestnikov scored on the power-play 50 seconds later. In a span of a little over two minutes the Lightning went from a tied game to a 5-2 lead.
What was even more bewildering was how it happened. The Islanders were crushing the Lightning and it looked as if Tampa Bay was going to have to regroup during the second intermission.
Yeah, about that.
The Lightning suddenly remembered they were the best team in the NHL and went full on “super saiyan plot armor activate” in the final 5 minutes of the period. Next thing we know it’s 5-2 and everyone in Amalie is looking at each other with this face.
I was hoping the third period would provide some semblance of sensible hockey and luckily it did. Tampa Bay was clearly not trying to blow a three-goal lead and the Islanders did have some opportunities, but they were nowhere near as dominant as they were for that 15-minute span during the second period.
Chris Kunitz provided another layer of insurance as he scored on a breakaway to make it 6-2 midway through the third. This goal seemed to fully deflate the Islanders as they didn’t really generate anything dangerous for the rest of the game (including a power-play).
This was one of the most bizarre and entertaining games I’ve seen. As crazy as the turns were this evening the Lightning were able to stem the bleeding late in the second period and close out the game in the third. It wasn’t pretty and Vasilevskiy had to stand on his head during those 15 minutes in the second frame, but Tampa Bay scored themselves out of a bad spot and cruised to the finish line.
It’d be nice if they didn’t blow two-goal leads like George R. R. Martin kills off likable characters, however. [YEEAAAAAAAAAAH. - Acha]
During the 15 minutes that saw the Islanders dominate Tampa Bay, there was one shining gem that kept the Lightning alive—Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Russian netminder made an array of saves to keep the game tied as the Islanders onslaught kept coming during the second period. He wasn’t challenged in the first period and held the Islanders off the scoreboard during the third.
This entire game could’ve gone off the rails during the second period if it wasn’t for Vasilevskiy stabilizing everything after the Islanders tied the game.
Bounce back ability
In previous seasons, the Lightning would’ve crumbled and allowed a winnable game to slip out of their hands. Tampa Bay has had troubles this season holding onto early two-goal leads, but luckily they’ve managed to avoid losing most of them this season.
The ability of this team to jump in front and then be able to restabilize a game that suddenly made a 180 turn in less than a period is a testament to the mental toughness the Lightning have.
They could have crumbled and allowed the Islanders to dictate the game, but they crawled their way out of a miserable 15-minute funk and exploded for three goals in less than three minutes to effectively ice the game.
This mentality will come in handy once the playoffs arrive.
Those 15 minutes
This is the only effective way to display the 15 minutes where the Islanders dominated Tampa Bay
This whole Jeykll and Hyde thing that Tampa is doing this evening is a head-scratcher.— Matthew Esteves (@mattesteves89) December 6, 2017
Seriously, the team we saw during the first and third period was completely different from the team that played for the first 15 minutes of the second period. I knew the Islanders would kick back, they’re too good not to, but to get dominated that much was reminiscent to how January of last season went for Tampa Bay (if you don’t remember it was bad, like the bottom of the Eastern Conference bad).