On The Road With Dave Mishkin
Tampa Bay Lightning
@ New York Islanders
Greetings from Long Island, where the Lightning face the Islanders tonight at the Nassau Coliseum. It’s the third meeting between the clubs in the four-game regular season series; the Isles have won each of the first two contests, including an overtime triumph in the last matchup.
Last night in Buffalo, the Lightning blew a 3-1 lead late in the third period and lost in overtime, 4-3. Coming on the heels of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to the Caps, it was their second deflating defeat in a row. The team’s top priority, then, for tonight’s game, is to have a short memory. Certainly, if the players can use any of their frustration to fuel them against the Islanders, then they should certainly do it. But the team needs to forget about the final couple of minutes of the Buffalo game and focus on the fact that they are still just eight points out of first place in the division with games in hand on all four teams ahead of them in the standings.
Last night’s game was the first contest in a while in which the Lightning did not enjoy a majority of the possession time. Even though they built a 3-1 lead, they were defending for much of the contest. Tonight, it’s important for the Bolts to get back to the successful style they’ve exhibited in recent weeks: fore-checking effectively, possessing the puck for long stretches of games and turning that advantage into scoring chances.
The Islanders are on a five-game winning streak and are coming off a come-from-behind shootout win in Washington last evening. What’s made the streak even more impressive is that the Islanders are without four of their regular defensemen: Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton, Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, puck possession will be a key for the Lightning tonight and they’ll try to exploit a different looking Isles’ defense corps than the one they’re used to seeing.
Of course, this is the second game in as many nights for the Lightning and Islanders. Furthermore, both teams had to play more than 60 minutes and needed to travel to Long Island afterwards. Whichever team has more gas left in the tank should have an advantage tonight.