Lightning misses chance to close out Isles

by Gary Shelton on September 16, 2020

in general

Hedman scored the Lightning's goal./CHUCK MULLER

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

They lost. At a time when it seemed as if the Lightning might not lose again, they lost.

It took 93 1/2 minutes.

It took a team playing without Brayden Point, arguably its best player of the post-season.

It took a whiffed shot by Kevin Shattenkirk that led to a two-on-one breakaway.

Still, the Lightning lost, 2-1 in double-overtime to the New York Islanders. That sliced their lead in the NHL's Eastern Conference Finals to three games to two. It was only the second time the Bolts have lost a one-goal game in the playoffs.

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“Winning and losing is razor thin in this league," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We just happened to win four in a row in overtime. I just watched that team (the Islanders) lose three in a row to Philly in overtime. At some point, they’re  probably bound to win one and we were bound to lose one. It took the stars aligning on a fanned shot for the team to get the break they got. That’s what happens in this game."

The winning goal came when Kevin Shattenkirk missed on a shot, and Anders Lee headed the other way with the puck. He passed to Jordan Eberle, who burned the shot at 7:30 of the second overtime.

That led the Bolts to a what-me-worry mentality. They still need only one win in the next two games to advance.

“I know how this team reacts to adversity," said Victor Hedman, who scored the only Lightning goal. "We’ve been through this before. Some of us in that room have had ups and downs in the playoffs. You’ve got to stay even keeled and have your focus on the next one. Just focus on the next game.”

The Bolts had trouble penetrating the Islanders zone for most of the night. Among the squandered opportunities was four minutes of power play late in the game.

"We had opportunities to  put the game away," Cooper said, "and it was either a bounce here or a save here or a  blocked shot here. If you look at the game as a whole, if we keep doing that, I’m pretty confident in our group. It’s a seven-game series. We’re in the conference finals. Both of these teams are very good. They get one. Turn the page and we’ll see you back here Thursday night.

"We didn’t come into these playoffs thinking we’re going to go 16-0. We just came into these playoffs with the mindset that we’re going to win 16 games. The way you have to win those games is to defend the way we’ve been defending. If we keep doing that, I’ve got a lot of faith in this group.”

It was too early to predict whether Point would be able to return for Thursday night's game. However, he was missed.

“He’s been so good for us in these playoffs," said teammate Alex Killorn. "It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. It changes the look of our power play a little bit. He’s  huge part of our team. He drives the team in a lot of senses: the way we play, the energy we play with. There are many capable bodies in this room. We’ve been through it before."

Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and the Islanders will take place Thursday from Edmonton’s Rogers Place. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

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