The NHL Conference Finals could come to a conclusion on Tuesday night as the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning meet in a potential elimination game. The Lightning have a chance to move on with a win on September 15, which should lead to a great game. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
New York finished out the regular season with a record of 35-23-10, which put them in seventh place of the Eastern Conference. The Islanders went on to eliminate the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now New York’s back is against the wall as they look to avoid elimination in Game 5 of the series.
The Lightning earned a record of 43-21-6 throughout the regular season. Tampa Bay went 2-1 in the round robin to move into the second seed of the Eastern Conference. The Lightning knocked out the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and the Boston Bruins in the second round. Tampa Bay will look to book a date with the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final with a win on Tuesday night.
These two teams will meet for an exciting Game 5 as a potential Stanley Cup matchup is on the line. I expect both teams to come out hot as they play for a huge win. The Lightning won the last game and will look to build upon that momentum in this one. New York has been close in most of the series though and I expect them to stick around in this one.
The first game of this series was back on September 7. Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist, while Andres Lee finished with two assists. It was not nearly enough though Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov both put up five points. Yanni Gourde also scored two goals as the Lightning pulled away with a 1-0 series lead. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 of 24 shots as the Lightning dominated for an 8-2 win.
Game 2 of this series was back on September 9. Matt Martin opened up the scoring for the Islanders, but it still was not enough. Victor Hedman tied it up late in the first period before Nikita Kucherov scored the game winner with less than eight seconds left. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of 28 shots as the Lightning took a 2-0 series lead with a 2-1 win.
Game 3 of the series was on September 11. Mikhail Sergachev scored a goal and an assist for the Lightning, which was not enough. Josh Bailey finished with two assists as New York bounced back. Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all scored a goal and an assist for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov stopped 34 of 37 shots as New York won 5-3 to cut the series to 2-1.
The fourth and most recent game of the series was back on September 13. Brock Nelson opened up the scoring for the Islanders. Tampa Bay bounced back though with two goals thirty seconds after Nelson’s goal. Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat both scored to give the Lightning the lead. Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point all had two points as the Lightning won 4-1 to take a 3-1 series lead.
The Islanders struggled a bit on special teams throughout the playoffs so far. New York has only capitalized on 15.1 percent of their power play chances throughout this postseason. The Islanders have also earned a penalty kill percentage of 79.3 percent. New York has been able to score on only 1 of 14 power play chances in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay’s special teams have been doing well throughout this postseason. The Lightning have capitalized on 20.8 percent of their power play opportunities in the playoffs. Tampa Bay has also put up an 83.9 percent kill rate. The Lightning have scored on 4 of their 13 power play chances in this series against New York.
The Lightning have had the better special teams throughout this postseason and have had New York’s number on the penalty kill in this series. The Islanders scored on their first power play chance of this series, but have not found the back of the net since. The Lightning have been solid, but will look to net a couple of power play goals to seal the deal on this series.
I expect Semyon Varlamov to get the start in the crease in Game 5 of this series. Varlamov finished out the regular season with a record of 19-14-6. In those games, he posted a save percentage of .914 and a 2.62 GAA. Varlamov has stepped up for the Islanders in the playoffs. He has earned a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.30 to help put up a 10-6 record.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the nod in the net for the Lightning in this matchup on Tuesday night. Vasilevskiy posted a record of 35-14-3 through his regular season starts. He finished with a .917 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA. In the postseason, Vasilevskiy has put up a save percentage of .930 and a GAA of 1.93.
These two goalies have helped lead to a lot of their respective teams’ successes. The Islanders could go with Thomas Greiss in Game 5 with their backs against the wall. Greiss got pulled from Game 1 of this series, but he could be used to try and ignite New York. The Islanders will need to get back to their defensive game though to help out which ever goalie is in net.
These two teams have played in a great series so far, with Tampa Bay having a chance to close out the Islanders in Game 5. I expect New York to come out strong and control the pace on Tuesday night though. The Islanders have done a great job of sticking around in this series since Game 1 and I think they will take advantage in this one.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -178 against the money line on Tuesday night. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 64 percent of the time. While Tampa Bay has a 3-1 series lead, the Islanders have not looked horrible in this series. I think New York has a great chance to force a Game 6 and as huge underdogs, I like them on the night.