Islanders jump Lightning early, end winning streak

by Gary Shelton on January 14, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

McDonagh scored the only goal for the Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

Perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to pay closer attention to what time their games start.

The Lightning, the hottest team in the NHL, had its third consecutive slow start Sunday night. This time, it was disastrous.

The Lightning fell to the New York Islanders, a team that was 21 points behind them in the standings, 5-1 on Sunday night. The Islanders scored three times on their first five shots, and by the time 4:47 of the game was complete, it was 3-0.

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Tampa Bay had won nine of its previous 10 games. The Bolts had won its previous 12 games this year against teams from the Metropolitan Division.

“It’s a tough league to spot a team a 3-0 lead in the first five minutes," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "They’re a good defensive team. It was a tough first for us. That first five minutes kind of set the tone for us, actually the first shift, we throw it in the bench in the first couple seconds, take a penalty and can’t kill it off. Tough part was I thought we had them on their heels in the second. The goalie made saves and the ones he didn’t see hit him. It was tough to come out of that period 4-1. We needed to close the gap a little bit more and didn’t. They’re a pretty good team at shutting it down, and that’s what they did.

"It's tough to come back in this league. We've been extremely fortunate we've been able to do it. You just can't keep playing with fire. We were just lifeless in that first 5-10 minutes."

The Lightning didn't score until they trailed 4-0 in the second period. Ryan McDonagh scored his fifth goal of the season.

“The start was the deciding factor in the game probably," McDonagh said. "They were for sure playing pretty conservative and playing the score the rest of the way. They still find a way to get a couple. There’s really no excuse. We’ve been going over it and working on things in meetings and talking about it amongst ourselves and maybe we needed to feel what it’s like to get kicked in the teeth and not come back. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned here, and we can realize the way we played the last half of that game for sure was a little bit hungrier, a bit more assertive, units of five and that’s what you need to do right from the start.”

Added Anton Stralman: “We weren’t hungry enough in that first period, and that’s been the case for a while. It’s been a lot of slow starts. It just gets you in trouble. Usually, we find a way to dig ourselves out, but tonight we weren’t and that’s something we have to work on.”

Stralman gave credit to Thomas Greiss, the New York goaltender.

"For one thing, I think Greiss made some unbelievable saves," Stralman said. "He played a great game. We didn’t lack chances to come back in the game. He locked it down pretty well, and that’s what you’re going to get sometimes, a goalie that’s making saves and you’re not getting those goals and you don’t get the momentum from it and then you’re in a fight. That’s why you can’t have that start and you can’t dig yourself a hole that is that deep on a game-to-game basis. It doesn’t work.”

The Lightning's star defenseman, Victor Hedman, left the game after colliding with a referee.

"It was kind of an unfortunate situation, not exactly sure," Cooper said. "I don’t even know if the camera caught it. He and the ref banged right into each other. He wasn’t able to come back obviously, so we’ll see if he’s okay.”

The Lightning now moves to Dallas, where the play the Stars on Tuesday. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:30 Eastern Time.


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