The Lightning has taken all the expectations set forth for them, crumpled them up, and threw them in the trash. While this may have an impact on the outcome to a certain degree, it can not be the sole reason for the Lightning's breakdown. The 2011-12 Canucks came the closest to matching Tampa Bay's poor performance - as noted by the New York Times - as they were eliminated by the Kings in five games.
The Islanders weathered Pittsburgh's early push and went ahead with 1:54 to go in the first period when Nelson slipped behind Penguins forward Garrett Wilson and darted to the net. Columbus scored three empty-netters in the final two minutes as the 'lebration in 'lumbus erupted.
This is especially true when it comes to the Lightning's star players.
It has been a very different postseason experience for him this time around. In fact, Kucherov is now a minus-2 while on the ice.
Islanders 3, Penguins 1 - Jordan Eberle scored for the fourth straight game, Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots, and NY finished off Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh at home for a stunning sweep. "You've got to trust what's gotten to you to this point and what our strengths are and how we've gotten here".
The sixth-year head coach will have hard-working centre Anthony Cirelli start Game 4 between Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, this season's National Hockey League scoring champion who returns from a one-game suspension for boarding Columbus defenceman Markus Nutivaara.
The reigning Norris Trophy victor notched 54 points in 70 regular-season games during 2018-19. The Lightning are the first team ever in the expansion era to get swept in the first round after leading the league in points.
Penguins defenceman Kris Letang whiffed while trying to pinch into the NY zone, creating a two-on-one the other way that Eberle finished to even it at 1 just 1:34 after Guentzel had put Pittsburgh in front.
This brings the discussion to the captain. But, the Lightning are the first to not secure at least one win.
Hedman also missed Game 3 of the first-round series Sunday with an undisclosed injury. Stamkos is currently in the last place on the team in this category right now. In 2015, no one expected us to go anywhere, and we went far, with the same core of players. This simply must come to an end if the Lightning has any hopes of coming back and truly fighting to advance to the next round. They were playing a team, however, that was short-handed the fewest times in the regular season.
How in the world do you go from a place of domination to the brink of elimination in a mere three games?
"But we have to believe that with the group we have - whoever is in the lineup or not - that we can win a game and get back to Tampa". Alas, we're stuck in a perpetual state of shock along with the rest of the Lightning fanbase.
Maybe, but for both Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the hard work is just beginning if they want to pull off the improbable. The Lightning still has an opportunity to bring the series back to Tampa and fight for their playoff lives.
In order for the Lightning to accomplish this lofty goal, they are going to have to put all the negativity of the last three games in the rearview mirror and truly concentrate on the task at hand. Tampa will have to move some contracts around to make room, but they will remain a fearsome team next season, albeit one with a chip on their shoulder.
Each and every player is going to have to step up their game and leave everything out on the ice. This starts at the top all the way down to the bottom. The Bolts will have to play like there is no tomorrow because if they fail in Game 4, there really is no tomorrow.
Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Columbus Blue Jackets capped a stunning sweep of the Presidents Trophy winners with a 7-3 victory on Tuesday night in Ohio. They had the league's best power play and the league's best penalty kill.
But, less than a minute later, Oliver Bjorkstrand delivered for the Blue Jackets. NY allowed the fewest goals in the league during the regular season, and then backed it up with 12-plus periods of sound hockey that's quickly become their calling card under first-year coach Barry Trotz, who led the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season.
On Tuesday night, that fire was put out.