NEW YORK - The Bolts are hoping to seal the deal in Game 6 against the New York Islanders. After Monday night's blowout win, they are officially one win away from defending the Stanley Cup.
Because of the realignment among the NHL divisions – due to the pandemic – there will be no conference champions crowned this year. This will be the second year in a row with the Lightning facing off against the Islanders in Round 3. Last year, during the 2020 Eastern Conference Final in the bubble, they defeated the Isles in Game 6. The Bolts are looking for a repeat.
On Tuesday, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Islanders' Mathew Barzal will be fined $5,000 for cross-checking the Lightning's Jan Rutta during Game 5 – ultimately, avoiding a suspension. He was ejected for the rest of the game.
Head coach Jon Cooper didn't have a health update on Erik Cernak, who missed Game 5, or Rutta. As far as Game 6, the team said it's all about continue to make adjustments after their lost in Game 4.
The 8-0 loss on Monday night has the Islanders in a 3-2 series hole heading into Game 6 at home on Wednesday night, facing elimination for the first time this postseason.
"It’s a seven-game series, it’s not just one game," forward Casey Cizikas said. "These things happen, it’s definitely not fun losing games like that, but you learn what it takes. They’re a Stanley Cup team, they know what they have to do to be successful, so going into tomorrow night our main focus is to play our game for 60 minutes and do that right from the get-go."
Game 5 was a forgettable night from the start for the Islanders as the Lightning took the lead just 45 seconds into the game, led 3-0 after one period and 6-0 after two. Tampa Bay scored three power-play goals and outshot New York 42-21 and blocked 13 Islanders shots.
The Lightning aren’t taking anything for granted and expect to see a strong bounce-back effort from the Islanders in Game 6.
"Sometimes you lose in overtime and those are more crushing and defeating than the lopsided ones," Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Schenn said. "You’ve got to win four of them, so it doesn’t really matter. Whether you lose, you turn the page, or if you win you’ve got to turn the page. Every game has its own storyline going into it."
The Islanders have managed to bounce back several times this postseason as they’ve trailed after three games in each series. They won three straight to beat Pittsburgh in the first round and then did it again against Boston in the second round. They evened this series after holding on a for a 3-2 win in Game 4 before falling behind again.
Now, they return to Nassau Coliseum, where they were 21-4-3 during the regular season and are 5-3 so far in the playoffs. With the Islanders set to open their new home at UBS Arena next to Belmont Park next season, it could be the last game at the Coliseum.
The Associated Press contributed to this report