The Islanders enter Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Lightning in an 0-2 series hole. Winning a series down after starting 0-2 is fairly uncommon but still possible; winning a series after going down 0-3 is basically impossible, having been done only four times in NHL history. And against Tampa Bay, I don’t think that the Islanders would be able to pull that off.
So if the Islanders want a fighting chance at going to the Stanley Cup Final, they absolutely, positively, 1,000% must win this game tonight.
Don’t get me wrong, winning the series even if they win tonight is still fairly unlikely. But they’d at least still be in it. If they lose tonight, the rest of the series is merely a formality. The Bolts surely know this and you can bet they would love to put a stranglehold on their Cup Final ticket, so they will probably come out hard.
But it’s the Islanders’ turn to be desperate, and hopefully that will be enough to at least force Game 5 tonight. We’ll deal with Game 4 when we get there and we know what’s at stake.
Also, the Islanders are the designated home team tonight, so that will allow Barry Trotz to get more the match-ups he might want.
Unfortunately, Casey Cizikas is unable to go tonight. Losing him is a huge blow to their center depth. Here are the lines they are rolling out tonight.
I imagine Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brock Nelson will be seeing multiple shifts. Leo Komarov at center is scary.
Semyon Varlamov is in goal for the Isles, and of course Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net for the Lightning. Tampa Bay, on top of losing Alex Killorn to suspension, is also without Brayden Point tonight. So both teams are depleted. Should be a fun slog. Here’s hoping we get the win.