TAMPA, Fla. — After the Tampa Bay Lightning steamrolled his New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semifinals, coach Barry Trotz had a simple message for his players in the locker room: They’ll have to earn the right to keep playing because another effort like the one Monday night and their season is over.
“I just think the game, this result, how we played … if that doesn’t motivate us, then I’m not too sure what will,” said Trotz, who watched the Lightning take a 3-2 series lead. “There’s nothing I can say that will motivate them. We’ve just gotta man up. We have to understand all the things we need to do, and [that] this group does. We have to leave our best game out there now. Because obviously tonight wasn’t our best game. We put ourselves in a real tough bind.”
The Lightning owned Game 5 from the first minute of the contest. Steven Stamkos scored 45 seconds into the game. Less than 15 minutes later, it was 3-0, and goalie Semyon Varlamov was pulled for rookie Ilya Sorokin after facing 16 shots.
By the end of the second period, it was 6-0, with the Lightning scoring two power-play goals during an uncharacteristically undisciplined period for the Islanders.
Speaking of undisciplined: Tampa Bay scored again on the power play in the third period after Islanders star Mathew Barzal was ejected from the game for a cross-check to the face of Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta at the end of the second. The Lightning were given a five-minute power play on the major penalty.
“I am disappointed in his decision there,” Trotz said of Barzal.
The 8-0 win marks just the second time in the last 48 years that a team won a Stanley Cup playoff game in the final two rounds by a margin of eight goals or more. Everything that could go wrong, did for the Islanders.
“We got a little frustrated,” defenseman Andy Greene said. “From the beginning, we didn’t have our game. They came out very well. We knew that was going to happen. We just never found our game.
“We weren’t managing the puck very well, whether it was at our blue line or through the neutral zone or their blue line. We turned a lot of pucks over and they’re a great transition team. You start giving them chances like that, they’re going to make you pay.”
Another issue was the Islanders’ time in the penalty box. Including Barzal’s five-minute major, the Lightning had a series-high six power plays in the game, scoring on three.
Despite the emphatic win, the Lightning weren’t taking any victory laps. They even stopped celebrating goals in the third period when the game was out of hand.
“That’s how the hockey gods work,” Stamkos said. “You play great, you earn your bounces. No one expected an 8-0 game. Let’s be honest there. But you earn everything you get.
“Now we’re going to get an extremely desperate team. They’re a proud group over there. We know their rink is going to be rocking. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Game 6 is scheduled for Wednesday night, and could be the final contest at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as New York moves to a new arena at Belmont Park next season.
“A loss is a loss this time of year,” Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri said. “Whether it was in double overtime or the way it went tonight. We’ll wake up tomorrow down 3-2 and with our backs against the wall,” “But we have a chance to win a game at home. That’s all we’re focused on right now.”