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Lightning 5, Islanders 3: New-look lineup and better effort not enough to outweigh mistakes

Tampa was tired and played their backup instead of their all-world starter, but the Isles couldn’t capitalize.

NHL: OCT 22 Islanders at Lightning
Point likes playing the Islanders.
Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a brutal showing on Thursday night, New York Islanders coach Lane Lambert wanted to shake things up. To do it, he healthy scratched Robin Salo in favor of Sebastian Aho and Josh Bailey in favor of Nikita Soshnikov.

Bailey, who is only three games away from playing game no. 1,000, was going to hit his milestone on Wednesday when the Islanders hosted the New York Rangers. Now, at the earliest, he’ll do it next Friday night in Carolina.

The Islanders brought a better effort on balance than they did on Thursday, but they got punished for the mistakes they made. Ultimately, they failed to take advantage of a tired opponent in the Lightning, who also started backup Brian Elliott to spare Andrei Vasilevskiy. They fell to 2-3-0 on the season with a game against the Florida Panthers tomorrow evening.

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First Period

The Islanders controlled the run of play for the first ten minutes, but they nonetheless conceded the first goal to Brayden Point. They got one back when Matt Martin was gifted a puck by Corey Perry; he spun around and fired to make it 1-1.

But they gave the lead right back on a flukey play. Point misfired off the rush, and the puck flipped off the crossbar behind Sorokin; Brandon Hagel just had to tap it in.

To complicate matters, Brock Nelson took a hooking penalty that straddled the intermission, and just before the period ended, Cal Clutterbuck took a tripping penalty.

Second Period

The Islanders killed off the five-on-three and carried the momentum, but then they allowed Tampa Bay’s fourth line to score. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare found Perry down low for a little redemption, making it 3-1 early in the second.

Shortly after their third goal, the Lightning gave the Islanders a power play. The second unit had a decent chance with Oliver Wahlstrom making a feed from behind the net, but no goals were scored.

The Isles continued to battle, though, and Anthony Beauvillier converted Brock Nelson’s pass off the rush; his shot squirted through Brian Elliott. The officials did not call goal right away, as the whistle blew, but they huddled and determined the puck crossed the line before the whistle. No further review was required. And Beauvillier was okay after crashing on the play.

It looked like the Islanders would enter the final intermission behind only one goal, but after losing control of the puck in the neutral zone with three seconds left, Nick Paul got below the hashmarks and picked a corner. There was 0.1 left on the clock. So it was 4-2 Tampa Bay, and tonight’s lineup inserts were both responsible.

Third Period

After Point walked to the front of the net in front of three Islanders, Aho managed to draw a power play. Other than an early chance where Mathew Barzal found Nelson cross-ice, they didn’t do much. But Ryan Pulock joined the scoresheet not long after. He prevented a clearing chance and was trying to pass the puck to Barzal, but the puck wouldn’t sit, so he just fired it off the post and in behind Elliott. 4-3, back within one.

Hagel fell awkwardly on Pelech, who was slow to get up before skating right to the bench. He returned, thankfully.

Barzal took a slashing penalty with the Isles hemmed in their own zone. Their penalty kill remained perfect, but after the kill, the teams traded odd-man rushes. After some time watching it this season, that style does not appear to favor the Islanders—who would’ve thunk it?—and Alex Killorn was able to clean up a fortunate bounce created by a Paul shot. Down two goals again.

The Islanders pulled Sorokin for an extra attacker, but couldn’t put one more past Elliott.

Notes and Thoughts

  • Midway through the second period, Lambert switched up his top two defensive pairs, rolling out Alex Romanov with Ryan Pulock and Noah Dobson with Adam Pelech. Pelech and Pulock played with everyone, though.
  • I think they looked more energetic tonight. After Thursday’s snooze, that was encouraging, although their defense hasn’t been fantastic.
  • However, it just seems like something is missing, and that something is missing has been evident against the last couple of teams, who just so happen to be a bit more skilled. Whether it’s a better offensive player or just another dimension to the system or just allowing a little more time for the players to gel in the new system, I’m not sure. But I think this sums it up perfectly (and the upcoming schedule could make this even worse):
  • No win on Butchie’s birthday. Happy 73rd to Butchie.

Up Next

Right back at it tomorrow afternoon/evening; they will migrate a little further south and visit the Panthers. It’s a 5:00 p.m. start.