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Thanks to a miraculous goal-line stand from Isles’ defenseman Ryan Pulock in game four, the Islanders have new life in this series. However, New York only has one first-period goal to their name in this conference final. That needs to change in a hurry if they want to prolong that momentum.
We like Tampa Bay to take the series lead at home.
|Although home-ice advantage hasn’t really come in handy for either team just yet, we feel the Bolts will put up a better fight in Tampa on Monday.|
|New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game Information|
|Teams||New York vs Tampa Bay|
|Location||Amalie Arena, Tampa, FLA|
|Time||June 21, 2021, 8:00 PM EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports, Sportsnet|
The difference in this game will be the two-goal lead. Whoever can find it first, should walk away with this contest. That’s been the story all series-long so far. Whoever can buoy themselves up first, has walked away with it. So, with that, the first goal is absolutely paramount.
The Islanders have had a lot of trouble escaping the first 20-minutes with any goal support thus far so that needs to change. They’ve only got a few shots left though and accomplishing that feat in this series is no gimme. A 3-2 series stranglehold doesn’t mean the end for most teams, but when you’re playing the Stanley Cup favorites, it could mean curtains.
As the Eagles song goes, “In a New York minute, everything can change”. This has never been more true for a New York hockey team.
These Isles, who have been tabbed the “Saints” in this playoff run, have been relentless and have found a way to claw back time and time again. At some point though, that need for clawing back has to get kicked.
Scratching the scoreboard first should be their primary focus in game five.
While scoring first is always every team’s strategy, it goes double for the N-Y-I.
Tampa finished tied for second for the best home record (21-7-0) in the regular season and have been consistent on home ice in this postseason. Not perfect by any means, but consistent.
So, what do you do if you’re Barry Trotz? You load up the crease. You get in Andrei Vasilevskiy’s crease, you get in his head and you throw everything at the net early. The Isles have found great success this season and playoffs with garbage goals and they’ll need to get them early and dirty to rattle the hometown Bolts in this one.
The Tampa Bay Lightning did lose a bit of momentum at the end of game four with Pulock’s miracle save on Ryan McDonagh, but it should be a moot point by now. 24-hours have past, we’ve seen the highlights, we’ve all read up on Twitter, but now it’s folklore. Everyone’s moved on.
The Bolts are a quality scoring team, but they’ll need to rely on their defense in this one.
If Tampa can establish that early lead, they’ll have to find a way to shut the door.
There’s a reason Victor Hedman took the Conn Smythe one year ago and it wasn’t all because of his points. He was a beast in the corners and in front of the net and the same will have to be said again on Monday night. He’ll need to lead his back-end troops by example.
As mentioned, no team has been able to come back from a two-goal deficit in this series, so it’s absolutely paramount that the Bolts erect a shutdown defense to pull the final gusts out of the Islander sails.
As of the writing of this article, 72% of bettors are leaning in Tampa’s direction. The Islanders are 4-9 in their last 13 at the Amalie Arena. The good news for New York, though, is that the road team is actually 5-2 through the last seven tilts between these two.
Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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