‘We can be a lot better, and we will be’


Brock Nelson high-five line Game 2 Tampa

Brock Nelson high-five line Game 2 Tampa

Looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead before heading back to Long Island for Game 3, the Islanders played the Tampa Bay Lightning tight through the first period, but things fell apart late in Tampa’s 4-2 win.

Brock Nelson’s first period goal tied the game at 1-1, but Odrej Palat put Tampa up in the final seven minutes of the second, and the third period belonged to Tampa, as Jan Rutta and Victor Hedman both scored to put the Lightning up by three.

Mat Barzal would add a late goal for the Islanders, but it just wasn’t enough.

“I thought the [first] two periods, we were pretty good, for the most part. You can be always a little bit better, but we knew a very good hockey team was going to have a very desperate push,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “I really felt we were in good shape. Obviously the second goal, that one hurt quite a bit because now if they get the third one, there’s a little more separation.

“From my standpoint, we can be a lot better, and we will be. We knew that they were going to have their A-game.”

“We knew they were going to come with a good response after we got the first game,” added Nelson. “Thought we did a pretty good job coming out of the gates 1-1. That’s hockey, bounces, breaks, whatever it may be, they were able to get a couple and get the lead, and we weren’t able to get it back.”

There is clearly no love lost between the two teams, as both sides were at each other all night long. The Lightning racked up 21 penalty minutes, but the Islanders had 33 of their own. For a team as good as Tampa, it was just too many man-advantages, as Hedman’s power-play goal in the third was the real dagger.

“They’ve got a lot of skill over there and weapons. You give them five looks on the power play, they’re gonna get some good looks,” said Nelson. “You give them five and you’re gonna have to rely on the goaltender making some big saves, getting a lot of blocks.”

The physical series will head back to New York for Game 3 on Thursday night at 8:00 p.m.