There is no doubt the New York Islanders Game 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning is a tough pill to swallow. They were 38.4 seconds away from taking a two games to one lead in the series. But Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov changed all that. The Islanders have no choice but to bounce back. If they don’t they will be packing up for their off-season in the next few days.
With his game-tying goal, Nikita Kucherov now has 15 points (6 G, 9 A) in his last 14 postseason road games
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 4, 2016
Greiss & Secondary Scoring
The good news for the Islanders is Thomas Greiss continues to play at a high level. New York has to do a better job defensively as a team. The Isles are giving up way to many grade A scoring opportunities. This has to change.
The other positive news in this series is the Islanders are getting secondary scoring. That was one of the biggest questions for New York heading into this series versus the Lightning. Shane Prince, Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Bailey and others have all contributed on the score sheet. John Tavares has two points so far this series and New York has scored ten goals in three games. The Islanders have scored enough to be up in this series.
Even 2 Josh Bailey goals can't overcome giving up two goals inside the final minute of periods. It was a theme all last season.
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) May 4, 2016
Defense, Defense, Defense
As I stated above New York has to do a better job as a team in terms of defensive coverage and turnovers. They gave up the lead twice in the third period to Tampa in their Game 3 loss. Quite simply you cannot do that in the playoffs.
This mantra of high level defensive play must be lead by New York’s top three defenseman. Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy have not shown their best in terms of defensive play in the playoffs. If the Islanders are going to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals this has to change.
Have to Overcome
At the end of the day New York lost Game 3 because they could not get control of the puck in the final minute and Kucherov made them pay. Yes, in overtime there are at least questions on Boyle’s high hit on Thomas Hickey that lead to a glorious scoring chance and the game winning goal for Tampa. But as I told many people who screamed about the non-call on the Matt Martin trip in the final minute of Game 6 between the Islanders and the Florida Panthers, the refs late in games have a mandate of letting teams play. This obviously has come down from the top of the NHL offices. Right or wrong this is the current system teams are operating in during the playoffs. Every team will most likely face tough calls or non-calls. The bottom line is teams are going to have to overcome this adversity. That is the place the New York Islanders find themselves in today.