Bolts displayed what Sunday Funday is all about after a tough 5-3, game 3 loss playing without Alex Killorn and Brayden Point. Hedman said after game 3 that “You’re not going to replace those players, but guys really stepped up, we’ll regroup and be better on Sunday”, which is exactly what they did. Tensions and chirping began early as Maroon and Schenn had words with some of the Islanders’ players during warmups, building anticipation for the opening puck drop. Hitting the ice commanding o-zone time and taking consistent confident shots on goal, Tampa Bay brought a lot of pressure to Varlamov, yet none of the 14 shots on goal succeeded. The 1st period closed 0-0 with it still being anyone’s game.
The 2nd period started off with both teams skating hard working for that first goal and with 8:33 left Islanders’ Brock Nelson looking like he was going to pass the puck to re set up in the o-zone headed towards the Lightning’s net for a goal. After giving up a goal, coach Cooper didn’t pull the 3rd line off the ice as typically expected and that worked in their favor as Vasy with confident puck handling makes a pass out to Gourde, who passes it up to Coleman on a breakaway to help tie up the game! Coach cooper was asked why he didn’t pull the 3rd line after they gave up a goal and Cooper said, “I’m not a big believer in just because you got scored on go to the bench and think about it, get out there and get it back. It’s a game not a shift. They delivered and that was a huge goal for us”. But the Bolts were not done making up for the Islanders’ goal. 12 seconds later Cooper’s 1st line works up the center and Kucherov draws 2 defenders with him as he gets a pass off to Palat who secures a 2-1 lead for Tampa. Palat has been a big factor in these playoff games and coach Cooper stated his impact on the team perfectly, “you need a Palat on your line”.
Leave it to Brayden Point to make some noise early on in a period. 3:33 into the 3rd, Point gets a backhand goal off a pass from Palat, changing the score board to 3-1 Lightning. New York fought hard to get another goal, but the Bolts fought harder playing an efficient offense and defense for 60 minutes. More importantly, Vasilevskiy continued to make massive saves, keeping the Islanders at 1 goal… with 2:33 left in the 3rd period, New York pulls their goalie, giving Tampa an opportunity to extend their lead as Maroon effortlessly places a long pass in the back of the net. The Lightning wrap up a very well executed game with a 3-1 series lead. Can they stamp their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoff finals in game 5? Gourde in his post-game press conference said, “getting the 4th win is always the toughest. We’re going to have to put our best effort out there and we’re going to need a big start and we have to keep going for 60 minutes”. If Tampa can show up like they did games 1 and 3, game 5, Tuesday at 8pm should result in their favor.