Bolts drop opening game of playoff series

by Gary Shelton on June 14, 2021

in general

Point scored the Lightning goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

For the first time in a long time, the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking uphill.

The Bolts lost the first game of their semifinal series of the Stanley Cup finals Sunday afternoon, allowing the visiting New York Islanders to frustrate their offense in a 2-1 win.

For the first time in this post-season, the Bolts now trail in a series. They lost the opening game of two series a year ago -- the one against Boston and the one against Dallas -- before coming back to win. They took four straight from Boston and four of five from Dallas.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

“Our work ethic was there," Bolts' coach Jon Cooper said. "Our compete was there. Our minds weren’t there. Some of our decisions were poor. That’s what happens. You get this deep into the playoffs,  you have to have everything in unison. We weren’t quite there tonight."

The Bolts couldn't score until the final minute of the game when Brayden Point scored. By then, however, the Isles had goals form Matthew Barzal and from Ryan Pulock.

“We weren’t using our heads the way we normally do tonight," Cooper said. "We played a different team than we did last week. It’s weird. We’re playing some really contrasting style teams. Now it’s on us to pick it apart."

The Islanders' defense in the neutral zone seemed to bother the Lightning, who had so many turnovers you wondered if Jamies Winston was on one of their lines.

"We knew it was going to be tight," said Steven Stamkos. "You have to stick with the grinding game. On the first goal, myself, trying to make a play there, and you see what can happen. It can go the other way and be the difference in a game. I need to be better in that situation. Our team realizes it can be one play, ut can be one bounce. It's going to be a tight series."

The Bolts managed 31 shots, but only one found the net.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy lost for just the second time over his last seven starts and fell to 8-4 this postseason. He surrendered two or fewer goals for the seventh time in 12 starts in these playoffs.

The teams return to the ice Tuesday night at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

Previous post:

Next post: