First Period Paved Way For Lightning, Who Can Advance To Stanley Cup Final Wednesday Night

TAMPA — The Lightning came out like a team possessed.

They could not have scripted a better start to Game 5 with four shots on goal in the first 45 seconds capped by a Steven Stamkos goal that sent an already worked up crowd over the edge.

The tone was set and the momentum was not about to change in what would be an 8-0 shellacking of the Islanders at Amalie Arena on Monday night. The win enabled the Lightning to take a 3-2 series lead.

“It was a spark and a big jump for our team,” said Stamkos, of the early goal. “I am glad we were able to build on it.”

Did they ever.

Stamkos and Alex Killorn scored twice while Brayden Point extended his goal streak to eight games, two off the NHL record set by the Flyers’ Reggie Leach in 1976. Stamkos and Killorn each also had an assist and Nikita Kucherov had three assists.

The Islanders would not get their first shot on goal until nearly six minutes elapsed by which time the Lightning, who would add goals by Yanni Gourde and Killorn to take a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, already had a few odd man rushes. It was that type of period and that type of game.

“Love the effort, but in the end it is one win,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “It is a clean slate and in two nights we have to get after it again.”

The Lightning had a bit of Lady Luck on their side in that decisive first period with each goal coming off a blocked pass or, in the case of the goal that made it 3-0, a shot by David Savard that hit Killorn and somehow made its way past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov. They also had a few glaring turnovers that the Islanders were not able to cash in on.

The Lightning, however, created their own luck with a take-no-prisoners attack that kept the Isles constantly off balance. They outshot the Islanders 19-5 in the first period with 12 different players putting at least one on net.

“Some goals were created from hard work and some from good bounces,” said Point.

Three more goals in the second period made it 6-0 after 40 minutes and Tampa Bay, which outshot the Islanders 40-21, added a pair in the third to complete the embarrassment. In fact, when Luke Schenn scored at 12:05 of third period, it gave the Lightning half as many goals (8) than the Islanders had shots on goal (16) at that point.

The only question over the final few minutes was whether Andrei Vasilevskiy would record his fourth career playoff shutout, which he did.

The Lightning head back to Long Island for a chance to close out the series Wednesday night.

“Now we will get an extremely desperate team,” said Stamkos. “They are a proud group and we know their rink will be rocking.” 

Tom Layberger is also a contributing writer for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business and Wealth Magazine.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.