The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-1 series lead over the New York Islanders with a 2-1 win in Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.
The Stanley Cup holders have won two in a row after falling in Game 1 of the semifinal series. Despite being the defending champions and beating New York in last year's Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning aren't underestimating their foes.
"These guys, they're hungry," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times. "They're a hungry group. And I give them all the credit in the world, especially with what happened last year and to keep having that will to win. It's good on them."
While there isn't a conference title in play this year—the NHL isn't awarding them following the divisional playoff alignment—a trip to the Stanley Cup Final is still on the line.
The Lightning are right to believe that New York is hungry for a title opportunity. The Islanders will play host in Game 4 and will look to even the series again Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders
When: Saturday, June 19
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV and Live Stream: USA Network, Peacock
Line: Tampa Bay -1.5
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook.
Thursday's game was a defensive struggle, with Tampa Bay edging out New York for a 2-1 victory. It marked the second 2-1 decision in the series. Tampa's 4-2 win in Game 2 appears to be an outlier, possibly sparked by a missed too-many-men call.
"Obviously you guys know there was too many men on the ice there," Trotz said, per ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "They had seven guys. Disappointed in that. But we tried to battle through."
Game 3 wasn't without its fair share of controversy, though. A questionable interference call on Adam Pelech led to a power play in the second period.
"I didn't think there was much there at all," Trotz said, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post. "But you've got to fight through those things, and we did. It was just the few seconds at the end."
Indeed, Tampa scored just seconds after the power play ended.
New York will look to regroup and could utilize a lineup change. The 21-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom could see his first action of the series in Game 4.
"I have a lot of faith in what Wally can do if I put him in, and he is an option for us going forward here," Trotz said, per Tom Gulitti of NHL.com.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, will try to ride the momentum it has built over the past two games. The Lightning will also look to maintain the defensive effort they had in Game 3.
"They had some control late, something to look at," Tampa Bay center Brayden Point said, per the Associated Press. "We still had guys sacrificing, blocking shots and all that good stuff. We'll take the win for sure."
If the Lightning can match their Game 3 defensive effort, they should take another win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 3, New York 2
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