Lightning lead series 3-1
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to make it a little easier on themselves and end the Eastern Conference second-round series when they host the New York Islanders on Sunday afternoon in Game 5. The Lightning were forced to rally before winning each of the last two contests in overtime at Brooklyn, N.Y., and return home where they have won four of five in the postseason.
“The fourth win is the hardest one,” Tampa Bay right wing Ryan Callahan told FSN Sun. “That’s one thing you learn as you go through the playoffs. We expect their best effort Sunday and we’ve got to be ready for it.” The Islanders must find an answer for right wing Nikita Kucherov, who scored the tying goal in Games 3 and 4 and has eight tallies in nine playoff games. New York has gotten off to strong starts throughout the series, but has not been able to maintain them while being outshot 104-52 in the final two periods and overtime combined. “We had plenty of opportunities,” Islanders captain John Tavares told reporters Friday. “It’s a fine line in playoff hockey. You have to be able to overcome these things. It doesn’t matter how you get it done, obviously. You’ve got to get results this time of year.”
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, Sportsnet, TVAS
Islanders – Thomas Greiss (W/L: 5-5, GAA: 2.31, SAVE %: .928)
Lightning – Ben Bishop (W/L: 7-2, GAA: 2.12, SAVE %: .931)
Islanders – Brain Strait (questionable Sunday, upper body).
Lightning – Erik Condra (questionable Sunday, upper body).
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (50-30-12, 38-45-9 O/U): Tavares has been held without a point in the last three games and was limited to one shot on goal in Friday’s contest as he and Kyle Okposo were joined by new linemate Shane Prince. Okposo had the only goal for the Islanders last time out on the power play, which has converted once in each of the first four games of the series (4-for-16 overall). Defenseman Ryan Pulock (upper body) returned to the lineup in Game 4, replacing Marek Zidlicky, and registered two shots on goal in 14:12 of ice time while rookie Alan Quine was a healthy scratch in favor of fellow forward Ryan Strome.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (53-33-5, 37-42-12 O/U): Kucherov finished with 10 goals in 26 games during last season’s postseason and is close to topping that already in the first two rounds while posting 11 points – one shy of linemate Tyler Johnson for the team lead. “He’s proving he’s not a one-hit wonder,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters of Kucherov. “He did it last year in the playoffs. … Now we’re back on the biggest stage, and he continues to amaze.” Cooper moved Alex Killorn onto a line with Johnson and Kucherov while Ondrej Palat joined Valterri Filppula and Jonathan Drouin on another unit and each created a goal Friday.
* Islanders are 8-1 in their last nine after scoring two goals or less in their previous game.
* Lightning are 5-1 in their last six games overall.
* Over is 3-0-2 in the last five meetings in Tampa Bay.
* Over is 4-1-2 in Lightning last seven games versus Metropolitan Division opponents.
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