Islanders’ top six can’t find groove against Lightning

The Islanders’ bottom six carried the offense during the 2-1 loss in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Lightning on Thursday night. While Mathew Barzal had some standout opportunities for the first line, the top six weren’t able to get anything going for a majority of the game.

Particularly in Game 3, Tampa Bay has been successful in stifling the Isles’ second line of Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey — who generated a bulk of the team’s offense through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It can’t be connected to being matched up with the Lightning’s top line, considering the aforementioned trio logged most of their ice time against Tampa Bay’s second line of Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos.

The Islanders will need a lot more from their top six in order to combat the Lightning. While Barzal has scored two goals in this series so far, and Nelson recorded a power-play goal in Game 2, Beauvillier has gone quiet offensively.

Anthony Beauvillier
Anthony Beauvillier
Getty Images

Beauvillier hasn’t scored a goal since Game 1 of the second round series against the Bruins. He has seen less ice time as the postseason has progressed, registering a playoff-low 13:40 on Thursday.

“I would say that Beau has another level in his game. I think he’s got stalled out a little bit,” head coach Barry Trotz said Friday. “Some of it is the line a little bit, I need them to be a little bit better. Give credit to Tampa Bay and their team; they’ve done a really good job against Nelly’s line as a whole. But we need just a little bit more and not only that line, but everybody.

“Anthony, I thought, hasn’t had quite the start that I’d like, but knowing Anthony and knowing that line, they’ll get it rolling.”

Through the first three games of the series, the Islanders have held a 31-21 advantage in high-danger chances at five-on-five over the Lightning. In Game 3, the Islanders posted a 14-5 edge in the same category.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a real large discrepancy five-on-five, but there’s a slight edge for us five-on-five,” Trotz said. “We’re going to have to find a way to finish. You’re not going to beat them a lot of times clean. It just doesn’t happen. You’ve got to get lots of traffic, you’ve got to get second chances, and then you’ve got to somehow get the puck to the back of the net.

“To me, the chances have been pretty even in this series. We got two one-goal games in terms of 2-1 game and one game that sort of got away from us in the third period. But really, it’s been pretty close.”

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