6:55 AM ET
- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
There has been only one NHL playoff team to rally and win after facing a 3-1 series deficit in the round immediately preceding the Stanley Cup Final: The New Jersey Devils in 2000, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The architect of that team? New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello. Can history be made again with New York now down 3-2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after Game 5?
Check out ESPN NHL Playoffs Today every day of the postseason until the Stanley Cup is handed out in October.
More: What each eliminated team should prioritize this offseason to get better for 2020-21.
Game 6: No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 7 New York Islanders (TB leads 3-2) | 8 p.m. ET
After the Islanders extended the Eastern Conference finals with a double-overtime victory, who has more pressure heading into Game 6: the team trying to continue a rally from a 3-1 series deficit or the team trying to advance to the Stanley Cup Final?
“Put it this way,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We have one life left. They have two. You tell me who has more pressure.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said both teams could make their case as to which has more pressure, but he said he has learned through the years to manage his emotions and those of his team. “Maybe five years ago in this situation, you come off an overtime loss and you’re kicking the can,” he said, adding that one of his biggest lessons was to not “overcoach” in reaction to adversity.
“Pressure is what you make of it. So if you want to succumb to it, you can, or if you want to thrive in it, you can. You’ve got to make your choice,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to embrace these moments. You don’t get them that often. So enjoy them. And don’t let that pressure get to you. Do your best on Thursday night, and see what happens.”
Question of the day: What’s the status of Brayden Point?
The Lightning’s No. 1 center has 25 points in 16 postseason games. He has seven points in three games against the Islanders, all of them Lightning wins. The problem is that an injury forced him out of Games 3 and 5 of the series, which are not coincidentally the two games New York has won in this series.
Point’s status for Game 6 remains in question, which means it could be another night of Anthony Cirelli centering Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. That line was a plus-3 in scoring chances in Game 5; in Game 4, Point’s line with that duo was a plus-6 in scoring chances.
There was a theory that the Lightning held Point out of Game 5 because of their series lead, but Cooper denied that.
“You don’t want to put guys in a position where they’re not going to be productive, and so anytime in my history of when guys have been hurt, they don’t play the same way. Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves,” he said Wednesday. “But in this situation, I’m hoping it’s not the last time we’re going to see Pointer, and we might be able to see him as early as tomorrow night. I don’t have the answer for that. But to answer your question, we put the player first, and then we just go from there.”
Bet of the day
Islanders vs. Lightning goal total under-5 (+115). The under-5 has hit twice in this series, including in Game 5. The Islanders are who we know they are. Even a Lightning victory is going to be a scratch-and-claw-for-every-goal affair. If Point’s out again, this becomes even more feasible.
Call of the day
— NHL (@NHL) September 16, 2020
The Islanders’ radio booth appeared to have a slight rooting interest in the game.
Stat of the day
The Islanders and Lightning have the two best overtime winning percentages in NHL postseason history. With the Game 5 win, New York improved to 36-20 (.643), but Tampa Bay remains the best in the extra sessions, at 20-9 (.690).
Quote of the day
“At this time of year, the game is less about the artistic part of the game. That gets thrown out a little bit. There are so many battles that happen. There’s no space. There’s no time. It becomes a little less creative.” — Islanders coach Barry Trotz on his team’s aesthetically displeasing but ultimately successful Game 5 effort.
Social post of the day
— NHL (@NHL) September 16, 2020
Via “Quest For The Stanley Cup” on ESPN+, it’s a look inside the Dallas and Vegas locker rooms, including a spirited lineup card reading from Ryan Reaves.