The Tampa Bay Lightning were a mess in Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1 of its second-round playoff series.
“Not a good night,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said.
The Lightning took an early lead and then turned in its worst period in recent memory.
Coach Jon Cooper and his players refused to use the time off as an excuse, referring to the six-day lag since winning the first round series.
Goalie and team MVP Ben Bishop, who before the game was named a finalist for the award given to the top NHL goalie, was yanked midway through the second period after giving up four goals.
The fourth goal from Islanders star John Tavares was the second “soft” goal Bishop gave up, yet he wasn’t even close to being the team’s worst player.
Forward Erik Condra was knocked into another dimension on a check by Casey Cizikas in the first period.
“I thought at the beginning, we made some bonehead plays,” Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. “We made some dumb decisions that they capitalized on. We didn’t adjust quick enough.”
Before Cizikas blasted Condra into the boards, the Lightning led 1-0 on a goal from Ondrej Palat only 3:05 into the game.
“Sometimes when you score first like that,” Bishop said, “you think it’s going to be easier than it is. I think we started to get more cute than we should have been.”
“What hurt us was giving up two goals in the last 2½ minutes (of the first period),” Cooper said. “That’s what killed us. … We were way too soft.”
The first goal came on a goal that Bishop certainly would like to have back. The third came with only 2.1 seconds left in the first period.
After five intense games in nine days against Detroit and then nearly a week off, Tampa Bay couldn’t be expected to simply pick up where it left off, but this collapsed shocked everyone.