The Tampa Bay Lightning’s ability to transition with speed and strength is second to none. They showed why in Game 4 against the Islanders.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League for a reason. With players like Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, this team was a heavy favorite to win the Stanley Cup prior to the beginning of the season.
As the playoffs have transpired, the opportunity to do just that has grown, as their transition game has really been the difference-maker. In Game 4 against the New York Islanders, that puck-moving ability was magnified in the 4-1 victory.
Just prior to game time, it was announced that Brayden Point would be in the lineup, after missing some of Game Two and the entirety of Game Three due to an injury.
The Islanders would get terrible news before puck drop as Casey Cizikas (missed Game 3) and Tom Kuhnhackl (unfit-to-play) had left the bubble and would not return for the remainder of the playoffs. The first period would come and go with no goals to report. The second period however would be much more exciting.
With the Islanders up 1-0 after a Brock Nelson snipe, the Lightning were still the better team in this one, dominating the pace of play. It seemed like every time the Lightning recovered a puck in their own zone or in the neutral zone, a quick and accurate pass had the team quickly into the Islanders’ zone. Once in the offensive zone, their speed and strength protecting the puck allowed them to cycle and garner plenty of scoring chances.
Despite trailing, this team would not be down for long because when Lightning strikes, it strikes rather quickly.
Twelve seconds was all it took for the Bolts to erase a 1-0 deficit and turn it into a 2-1 lead.
Blake Coleman would make a nifty move on the breakaway to fight through a Semyon Varlamov poke check, sliding the puck past the left pad to tie the game at one. This play starts with Vasilevskiy taking his time with the puck, as he dishes it to Yanni Gourde. With great vision, the 28-year old flipped the puck all the way into the Islander zone, landing just in front of Coleman.
Again, quick puck movement leads to a prime scoring opportunity. The next goal would showcase more of the same.
This passing play to find Ondrej Palat backdoor was phenomenal. But go watch the play again, as a quick pass by Hedman to Kucherov in the neutral zone allowed the Lightning to break through the Isles zone with ease leading to the go-ahead, and eventual, game-winner.
In total, three goals were scored in 27 seconds.
For an Islanders team who needed this game, these quick goals erased all the momentum the Islanders had, pretty much burying it for the remainder of the second period.
When the third began, the Lightning again used a quick transition to add to their lead.
Just a remarkable play from top to bottom. A team that was so strong on defense was no match for this Lightning offense in this one, as even when the Bolts did not score, it seemed that they had the power to do so on seemingly every shift with their puck control and puck movement.
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The Bolts have a chance to knock off every opponent they have faced four games to one. In the first round, they sent Columbus packing in five, doing the same to the President Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the second round. Now they have a chance to do it to the Islanders on Tuesday at 8:00 PM EST when the puck drops for Game Five.