The New York Islanders don’t plan to spend too much time thinking about their blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning that’s put them on the verge of being ousted from the Stanley Cup semifinals.
The 8-0 loss on Monday night has the Islanders in a 3-2 series hole heading into Game 6 at home on Wednesday night, facing elimination for the first time this postseason.
“It’s a seven-game series, it’s not just one game,” forward Casey Cizikas said. “These things happen, it’s definitely not fun losing games like that, but you learn what it takes. They’re a Stanley Cup team, they know what they have to do to be successful, so going into tomorrow night our main focus is to play our game for 60 minutes and do that right from the get-go.”
Game 5 was a forgettable night from the start for the Islanders as the Lightning took the lead just 45 seconds into the game, led 3-0 after one period and 6-0 after two. Tampa Bay scored three power-play goals and outshot New York 42-21 and blocked 13 Islanders shots.
“You have to have a short memory,” forward Jordan Eberle said. “That goes with the highs and the lows. It’s not a total point thing. They win one game, doesn’t matter if it’s eight or overtime, So you put that one aside, you learn from it, the same thing is when you win, and you move forward.”
The Lightning aren’t taking anything for granted and expect to see a strong bounce-back effort from the Islanders in Game 6.
“Sometimes you lose in overtime and those are more crushing and defeating than the lopsided ones,” Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Schenn said. “You’ve got to win four of them, so it doesn’t really matter. Whether you lose, you turn the page, or if you win you’ve got to turn the page. Every game has its own storyline going into it.”
The Islanders have managed to bounce back several times this postseason as they’ve trailed after three games in each series. They won three straight to beat Pittsburgh in the first round and then did it again against Boston in the second round. They evened this series after holding on a for a 3-2 win in Game 4 before falling behind again.
Now, they return to Nassau Coliseum, where they were 21-4-3 during the regular season and are 5-3 so far in the playoffs. With the Islanders set to open their new home at UBS Arena next to Belmont Park next season, it could be the last game at the Coliseum.
“That’s our building,” Cizikas said. “Our fans get us going every single time they’re behind us, no matter what. We feed off that energy, we love playing in that building, we love playing in front of them and that’s when we play our best hockey. We’re excited for the challenge ahead of us tomorrow.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz was in a similar position three years ago when he led Washington to the Stanley Cup championship. The Capitals trailed 3-2 against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, heading home for Game 6. They won that one and then won Game 7.
“The journey’s not how you envision it,” Trotz said. “It wasn’t the vision I had of how it was going to be done. It plays out in front of you, that’s the beauty of it.”
Trotz said his message to the team was simply to remind them how hard it is to get far in the pursuit of a Stanley Cup championship, especially after they fell short against the Lightning in the last year’s conference finals.
“How much do you want to commit to have one shot to go the Stanley Cup Finals,” he said. “How much are you willing to commit tomorrow? … Go after it guys because you only get so many cracks at this.”
Islanders star center Mathew Barzal avoided a suspension when he was fined $5,000 by the NHL for cross-checking Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta at the end of the second period on Monday night. Barzal received a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play, drawing an immediate ejection from the game.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at http://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP