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Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders preview: Depleted lineup means no room for error

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Can the Lightning’s depth hold up?

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New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Two Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning: ROUND 3, GAME 3

Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Rogers Place

Broadcast/Streaming: USA, SN, TVA-S, FuboTV

Opponent SBNation Site: Lighthouse Hockey

Preview:

The Lightning were lucky on Wednesday in Game 2, losing two key forwards early on, but they somehow managed to avoid overtime by taking advantage of the Islanders’ lone defensive collapse with 30 seconds left in the game. The penalty kill, which successfully killed off a five-minute major and a 38-second 5-on-3, came up big for the Lightning as well.

Alex Killorn won’t dress for tonight’s game, having been suspended for his hit on Brock Nelson in Game 2, an unnecessary hit that also saw him ejected. The status of Brayden Point, who left in the second period with an undisclosed injury, remains up in the air, but Jon Cooper said the team’s leading scorer might not be available for Game 3. The Lightning got lucky again as Barclay Goodrow’s crosscheck (also on Brock Nelson) went seemingly unnoticed by the Department of Player Safety.

The absence of Killorn (and likely Point as well) leaves a gaping hole in the Bolts’ lines that the team will struggle to fill. The likeliest candidates to draw in are Mitchell Stephens, Mathieu Joseph or Carter Verhaeghe — we’ll see if Cooper elects to dress 12 forwards and 6 defenseman, or stick with the 11-7 combination that has worked out incredibly well for the team this postseason.

The Islanders tried to pull the Lightning down into taking unnecessary penalties, and it did work on one occasion (Yanni Gourde’s penalty to put the team down 5-on-3). For the most part, though, the Lightning stuck with their game, remained patient, and were rewarded when it mattered most. With key players out of the lineup tonight, they’re going to have to do that again — and please, dear god, stay out of the penalty box.

Tonight’s game is about survival — the Lightning may be up 2-0 in the series, but the odds aren’t in their favor tonight, especially as the series shifts to give the Islanders the last-change advantage. They’ll need a full team effort, to play a clean game, and capitalize on any opportunities they have in order to take a stranglehold 3-0 series lead tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - ? - Nikita Kucherov

? - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman

Cedric Paquette - Patrick Maroon

Alexander Volkov, Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Mitchell Stephens

Injured: Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point

Suspended: Alex Killorn

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn

Injured: Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

New York Islanders

Forwards

Anders Lee - Mathew Barzal - Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Leo Komarov

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Michael Dal Colle, Derick Brassard

Defense Pairs

Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews - Scott Mayfield

Nick Leddy - Andy Greene

Goaltenders

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss