(The Sports Xchange) - Ben Bishop continues to save his best for the biggest games and on Sunday the Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender’s best ended the New York Islanders’ season.
Bishop had 28 saves and recorded his fifth career shutout in the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Lightning earned a 4-0 win against the Islanders in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference second round series on Sunday.
The Lightning won the best-of-seven series 4-1 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the winner of the series between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think we learned last year we had a couple series where we had chances to close them out at home and we kind of let them slip,” Bishop said. “We really wanted to take pride in closing teams out this year.”
Defenseman Victor Hedman scored twice while Nikita Kucherov had his ninth goal of the postseason as the Lightning advance to the conference finals for the second consecutive year.
“This is a great accomplishment for this team,” Hedman said. “I don’t think too many people picked us to get this far, especially considering the injuries.”
Hedman gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 13:49 of the first period when he took control of a loose puck and beat Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss at the near post.
Lightning center Brian Boyle scored his third goal of the postseason at 18:41 in the first period to make the score 2-0.
Defenseman Matt Carle went behind the net and passed the puck to Boyle, who snapped a shot past Greiss above his shoulder.
”Start to finish, we played really well,“ Boyle said. ”We were hard on pucks, we made sure we got the puck in deep, we didn’t turn it over in the neutral zone and give them many opportunities. We played a great game.
“Obviously, one we needed to, and again Bishop was there for us.”
Hedman’s second goal came on a Lightning power play at 4:22 in the second period. Jonathan Drouin made a backhand pass that banked off the boards, and Hedman scored on a one-timer from the right circle to make the score 3-0.
”(The Lightning) took advantage of their opportunities,“ Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. ”You know we came in here (Sunday), I thought the game plan was good. We surrendered 18 shots even strength, and, I mean, if you asked me that going in we would take it.
“We gave up seven on our power play, but you know we just couldn’t find a way here these last few games to score some goals. At the end of the day, like I said, you have to get more than one, and we didn’t get any (on Sunday).”
Kucherov added a goal at 4:40 in the third period on a breakaway to give the Lightning a 4-0 lead.
Greiss made 21 saves for the Islanders.
“It is definitely going to sting for a while,” Greiss said.
”It was a tough loss and a tough loss in the series. I think it was a very tight series for a 4-1 series.
“We could have easily won some games at home and came (to Tampa Bay) and have done different kind of things. It will sting for a long time, but you have to get over it.”
The Islanders were held to just one goal in the final two games of the series. Center John Tavares was held without a point in the final four games.
Editing by Peter Rutherford