Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders (A: -115, H: -105, O/U: 5)
Lightning lead series 2-1
Captain John Tavares and Kyle Okposo look to get back on the scoresheet as their New York Islanders try to avoid a deeper hole in the second-round series when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Friday. Tavares and Okposo, the team’s top two scorers who accounted for 55 goals in the regular season, have gone without a point the last two games as the Islanders dropped both to fall behind 2-1 in the series.
New York coughed up three leads before losing 5-4 in overtime Tuesday while Okposo and Tavares each finished with a minus-2 rating, getting blanked on eight total shots by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop. “It’s all part of the playoffs,” Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who scored twice Tuesday, told reporters. “You’re going to have these swings, and these ups and downs. It’s all part of the ride.” The Lightning have been successful getting top defenseman Victor Hedman (six points, plus-3 in series) out against Okposo and Tavares as much as possible. Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov scored the tying goal with less than a minute left in regulation – his seventh of the playoffs – and Brian Boyle won it in overtime Tuesday after Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he unleashed an illegal check on New York defenseman Thomas Hickey.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS
Lightning – Ben Bishop (W/L 6-2, GAA: 2.27, SAVE %: 0.926)
Islanders – Thomas Greiss (W/L 5-4, GAA: 2.34, SAVE %: 0.926)
Lightning – RW E. Condra (Questionable Friday, upper body), D M. Carle (Questionable Friday, undisclosed), RW J. Brown (Out Indefinitely, upper body), C S. Stamkos (Early June, arm), D A. Stralman (Out Indefinitely, leg).
Islanders – D T. Hickey (Questionable Friday, head), D B. Strait (Questionable Friday, upper body), D R. Pulock (Questionable Friday, upper body).
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (52-33-5, 38-52 ATS, 37-41 O/U): The script for right wing Jonathan Drouin’s season continues to add twists and turns after he came back from a devastating hit by Hickey early in Game 3 to set up the tying goal — his sixth assist and seventh point of the playoffs. “He’s a warrior,” Bishop told reporters of Drouin, who was suspended by the Lightning for six weeks early in 2016 and appeared done with them. “. … He’s a big reason why we are where we are right now.” Defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) and forward Erik Condra (upper body) could be ready to return after practicing Thursday.
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (50-30-11, 38-53 ATS, 38-44 O/U): Capuano said Game 3 was one of the team’s best performances of the season and there were reportedly no changes to his forward lines at practice while defenseman Ryan Pulock (upper body) is still day-to-day. Former first-round pick Ryan Strome was scratched in Game 3 after the return of Bailey, who had one point in seven playoff games before suffering an injury in Game 1. “He’s was flying,” Tavares told reporters of Bailey’s effort in Game 3. “You could see some of those days off helped. … Probably was our best forward out there. Really made a lot happen.”
* Lightning are 14-3 in their last 17 Conference Semifinals games.
* Islanders are 5-0 in their last 5 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Over is 8-2-4 in Lightning last 14 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 5-1-1 in Islanders last 7 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game.
* Lightning are 2-8 in the last 10 meetings in New York.