The Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals, using their flight home Sunday morning and a day off to turn the page following an emotional 3-2 loss at the New York Islanders in Video game 4 on Saturday that tied the best-of-7 series.
The Lightning scored two goals in the third period but fell one short, and will try to retake the series lead Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
There is value in that, especially during a grinding series in which goals are hard to come by, with plans now being made for a return trip to Uniondale, New York, for Game 6 on Wednesday.
Game 7 is looking like a real possibility as well, considering how even the series has been; Tampa Bay holds a 9-8 advantage in goals, the difference being a 4-2 house win in Game 2.
The Lightning have been the best team in the League following a reduction in Stanley Cup Playoff games since the beginning of last postseason. They’re 11-0 in such games, including 4-0 in these playoffs.
The adjustment Tampa Bay needs to make for Game 5 is similar to what it did after a 2-1 loss in Game 1; play smarter through the neutral zone for the entire game with a straight-line attack mentality and managing the puck better instead of being tentative.
The Lightning lost that mentality in Game 4, when the Islanders scored three goals in the second period.
They did in the 3rd period, when they scored two goals and could have had the tying goal in the waning seconds if not for NY defenseman Ryan Pulock sliding into the crease to come up with a block on defenseman Ryan McDonagh that saved the game from going to overtime.
Even if they do, the Lightning know the Islanders will assault too, and make an effort to put them on their heels, as they did at points throughout Video game 4.
That’s why the series will go at least six games, and why getting away from it for a few hours Sunday matters for what happens Monday.