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NHL Playoffs, Islanders vs. Lightning Game 5: On-the-brink mindsets

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This could be it, Part 1.

But I don't want to let you go.
But I don't want to let you go.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Win this, and you get to fight for survival on home ice. Win that, and anything can happen in Game 7.

That's the traditional mindset for teams in the New York Islanders' situation, down 3-1 with Game 5 in the enemy's territory.

John Tavares, at

"Obviously in the playoffs, it's such a fine line. It's very tight and we've just got to make the plays when they're there. We obviously have to try and capitalize on some more of our opportunities, especially from last game."

...and in a Newsday story with lots of quotes like that:

"We just want to keep playing, we want to win the Stanley Cup. We have to just get a win [Sunday],'' John Tavares said. "Don't want to make it much bigger than that."

There are all sorts of "this could be the end" thoughts but those would be the same thought for Game 6 and Game 7 if they get there, plus any games on the brink in the conference final if they somehow reel off three wins here.

For now, it's just Game 5. The Tampa Bay Lightning know this situation well. Coach Jon Cooper in a Tampa Bay Times story:

"One thing we have learned is you get the other team's 'A' game on those opportunities that you have to close the team out," coach Jon Cooper said. "We saw (that) when we played Detroit. They gave us everything we possibly had, and I'm sure that's going to happen (today)."

What are the playoffs like? You can knock a division champ off four games to two while being outplayed in three or four of them and pulling off three overtime wins. Then you can play a team with fewer points than you -- but who has home ice advantage because of the wild card system -- and lose on two of your best efforts, in overtime, losing late leads like your first-round opponent victim did.

Today is the first time the Isles face elimination this year. They forced a Game 7 in this situation in 2015 with a win at home against the Capitals, and lost in overtime at home in this situation in Game 6 against the Penguins in 2013.

So this afternoon brings a new chapter that can unfold any number of ways, and some of those ways mean we'd be "lucky" enough to do it again Tuesday, and then...just be glad you get to watch, if you get to watch, on this Mother's Day.

No major lineup changes are expected, but it's an afternoon start and it's the playoffs, so it's "subject to change" squared.

New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5: How to Watch

3 p.m. ET | Amalie Arena [that's a place in Tampa]
Live stream at NBC Live Extra and Rogers GameCentre
Lightning coverage: Islanders blog | Raw Charge