3 Keys: Lightning vs. Islanders, Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final – NHL.com

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3 Keys: Lightning vs. Islanders, Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final – NHL.com
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No. 2 Lightning vs. No. 6 Islanders

3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

Tampa Bay leads best-of-7 series, 2-1

The New York Islanders will try to even the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.

The Islanders lost the first two games but recovered late in the third period for a 5-3 win in Game 3 on Friday in Edmonton, the hub city for the conference final and the Stanley Cup Final. 

Lightning center Brayden Point could miss his second straight game. Tied with forward Nikita Kucherov for the Tampa Bay postseason lead with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 15 games, Point appeared to be injured during the first period of a 2-1 win in Game 2 on Wednesday. 

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper, speaking prior to practice Saturday, did not provide an update on Point’s status. Video later provided by the nhl showed him participating at practice.

As part of the nhl Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Teams that take a 3-1 lead are 288-29 (90.9 percent), including 10-0 in the first two rounds, winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. 

Here are 3 keys for Game 4:

1. Slow it down 

The Islanders came away with the win Friday but were unable to play to their identity for long stretches and traded more chances with the Lightning than they would have liked. 

“They like their rush play and obviously they’re highly skilled, so it’s important that we do a good job in the neutral zone and try to take that rush game out of it because that could really hurt you,” New York defenseman Ryan Pulock said Saturday. “We’ve got to find a way to do a little better job, but obviously that was a big win for us.”

2. Ability to bounce back

The Lightning have not lost consecutive games this postseason, including the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. They won four straight against the Boston Bruins in the second round after a 3-2 loss in Game 1 on Aug. 23. 

“I think we just go to the mindset of just playing every game like it’s a clinching game,” Tampa Bay forward Pat Maroon said. “We’ve got to find ways to just keep playing the way we’re playing. We have a good group in there. We have a good team that knows how to bounce back when a loss happens. … We’ve just got to find ways to turn the page; I think we already did that, but find ways to come prepared tomorrow.”

3. Make it ‘best-of-3’

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said he knows they have to raise their level to even the series, especially with the expected return of Tampa Bay forward Alex Killorn, who was suspended for Game 3 for boarding New York center Brock Nelson in Game 2. 

“We’re going to get their best game tomorrow, and we’ve got to have our best game,” Trotz said. “You’re in a position to get it to a best-of-3. The opposition doesn’t want that and they’re going to do everything to prevent us from doing that. We’ve got to make sure we do everything in our power to make sure it gets to that best-of-3.”

Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej PalatAnthony Cirelli — Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn — Yanni GourdeBlake Coleman

Barclay GoodrowMitchell StephensTyler Johnson

Pat Maroon — Cedric Paquette

Victor HedmanKevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonaghZach Bogosian

Mikhail SergachevErik Cernak

Luke Schenn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

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

Unfit to play: Brayden Point, Jan Rutta, Steven Stamkos

Islanders projected lineup

Anders LeeMathew BarzalJordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Matt MartinJean-Gabriel PageauCal Clutterbuck

Derick BrassardLeo KomarovMichael Dal Colle

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Devon ToewsScott Mayfield

Nick LeddyAndy Greene

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andrew Ladd, Sebastian Aho, Johnny Boychuk, Noah Dobson, Thomas Hickey, Christopher Gibson

Unfit to play: Casey Cizikas

Status report

Trotz said Cizikas, who missed his first game of the postseason Friday, will be a game-time decision.

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