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3 Keys: Islanders vs. Lightning, Game 5 of Eastern Conference Final

No. 6 Islanders vs. No. 2 Lightning 

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS 

Tampa Bay leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in six seasons when they play the New York Islanders in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday. 

Teams with a 3-1 lead are 289-29 (90.9 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series, including 11-0 this season. Since the conference format was adopted for the 1981-82 season, teams with a 3-1 lead in the conference finals are 35-1 (97.2 percent). The New Jersey Devils rallied to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2000 Eastern Conference Final and then won the Stanley Cup.  

The winner of this series will face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final. 

“The last thing you can do is think too far ahead,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You’ve got to win four, it’s not three. You’ve heard me say this a million times, the next one’s the toughest one. I’d be disappointed if we were looking ahead because there’s no reason to. We’re playing too good a team, and I’ll tell you right now, they’re not looking ahead.” 

Here are 3 keys for Game 5:


1. Continue to contain Barzal’s line 

Tampa Bay has effectively shut down New York center Mathew Barzal and linemates Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle for most of the series, so much so that Islanders coach Barry Trotz said he’s considering shuffling lines.  

Barzal, a dynamic playmaker, has two assists in the series. Lee and Eberle have each gone three straight games without a point. 

“I think it’s a collective effort,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Every time you start a series, you identify their top lines, their top players. We did that a little bit, but I think with this Islanders team, it’s every line could be a difference maker for them on any given night.  

” … But we’re trying to do it collectively here. Make it tough on [Barzal], take away his time and just not let him gain that momentum, feel good about himself. We need to continue to do that here, right from puck drop and not let them get any momentum within their game.”


2. ‘Leave it on the line’

The Islanders are facing elimination for the second time this postseason. They blew a 3-1 series lead against the Flyers in the second round but recovered to win Game 7.

“I said to the guys, ‘Enjoy the challenge,'” Trotz said. “We’re not scared of the challenge. This team has got too much character and has invested too much over this whole playoffs to not leave it out there. That’s not even a concern for me.  

” … The challenge is in front of us, we know what it is. This bubble’s getting pretty scarce, there’s three teams left. There’s 28 teams that wish they had this opportunity. Let’s leave it on the line and have no regrets at the end of the game.”


3. Strong 5-on-5 play 

The Lightning have not allowed the Islanders to dominate for large stretches at even strength, something they did in previous series against the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Flyers. Each of Tampa Bay’s first three goals in its 4-1 win in Game 4 were scored 5-on-5 before Pat Maroon sealed it with an empty-net goal. 

“Our 5-on-5 play’s been exceptional,” Cooper said. ” … When it gets to playoff time, usually there’s not as many penalties called. As we’re trying to stay disciplined, I know the Islanders are going to. This game is going to be played 5-on-5, and we’ve just got to continue with how we’re playing things, our scheme and the guys executing.” 


Islanders projected lineup 

Anthony Beauvillier — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle

Anders Lee — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Matt Martin — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Cal Clutterbuck

Ross Johnston — Leo Komarov — Derick Brassard

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews — Scott Mayfield

Nick Leddy — Andy Greene

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Michael Dal Colle, Otto Koivula, Andrew Ladd, Sebastian Aho, Johnny Boychuk, Noah Dobson, Thomas Hickey, Christopher Gibson

Unfit to play: Casey Cizikas, Tom Kuhnhackl


Lightning projected lineup 

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Blake Coleman

Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Tyler Johnson

Pat Maroon — Cedric Paquette

Victor Hedman — Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh — Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev — Erik Cernak

Luke Schenn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, Carter Verhaeghe, Alexander Volkov, Braydon Coburn, Scott Wedgewood

Unfit to play: Jan Rutta, Steven Stamkos

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