Stamkos, Lightning strike early, often; Islanders fall 8-0 in Game 5

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Would Steven Stamkos break free in Game 5 of Lightning – Islanders? The answer is yes, and it did not take him long to do so.

Just 45 seconds into Game 5, Stamkos took advantage of a fortunate bounce to give the Lightning a quick 1-0 lead over the Islanders. While the Isles have been resilient during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs (they’re now 5-6 after giving up the first goal), this was the start the Bolts — and Stamkos — needed.

Ultimately, the Lightning absolutely blew the Islanders out by a score of 8-0. Tampa Bay now leads this otherwise-skin-tight series 3-2.

Stamkos, Lightning beat Islanders in Game 5

The Lightning took over the first period of Game 5, never really letting the Islanders get their footing.

In the case of at least the first two Lightning goals during a 3-0 first period, the Islanders suffered some tough bounces. But, yes, it’s probably fair to describe it as the Bolts enjoying some good luck, yet also “making their own luck.”

Maybe with a little more luck, the Islanders could’ve manufactured at least a slightly better chance to get back into Game 5, though? It easily could have been a more manageable 3-1 margin when Andrei Vasilevskiy got some post love:

Things unravel in second period, including Barzal ejection

After a few near-goals, the Islanders really let things go from bad to worse against the Lightning in Game 5.

If the Islanders go back to Semyon Varlamov for Game 6 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN / Peacock), maybe they were fortunate to pull him after the 3-0 goal. Instead, Ilya Sorokin absorbed the brunt of the blowout after shaking off an early shot up high.

After a first period without penalties, the Islanders took the first three of the middle frame. Steven Stamkos scored what might have been the true back-breaker when he made it 4-0 on the power play.

(Yes, Stamkos did break free.)

Once the whistle sounded at the end of the second period, the Lightning were up 6-0. The final whistle of the second period would signal the end of Mathew Barzal‘s Game 5. Barzal received a cross-checking major and game misconduct for this hit on Jan Rutta:

[Click here for more on that Barzal cross-check on Rutta]

To little surprise, the third period was merely a formality. Brayden Point keeping his goal streak going was the most noteworthy part of the final 20 minutes of Game 5:

No doubt, it will be fascinating to see how the Islanders respond to being decimated by the Lightning in Game 5. Certainly, it won’t hurt to return to their raucous fans at Nassau Coliseum.

Will there be any carryover from the blowout? Will the Lightning gain some scoring momentum thanks to this surprising Game 5? Maybe there’s some benefit to this never be in question for the Islanders? Sometimes it’s better to lose big, rather than get your heart broken in OT.

Whether the Islanders burn the tape or obsess over Game 5, the bottom line is that they need to win two elimination contests, or the Lightning will reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (TBL leads series 3-2) – series livestream link

Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
Game 5: Lightning 8, Islanders 0
Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)

*if necessary

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.