Tough break early was start of Islanders’ playoff disaster

The Islanders were doomed from the start of Game 5, an 8-0 loss to the Lightning.

It started moments after puck drop. Adam Pelech frequently pinches — a staple of his notoriously aggressive game — but it cost him on his first shift. He threw the puck right to Anthony Cirelli, who directed a quick backhand pass to captain Steven Stamkos. The hockey gods chose to help him out, as Stamkos then corralled an Alex Killorn blocked shot and deposited the loose puck into an empty net.

Eleven minutes later, another bounce haunted the Islanders. Leo Komarov and Jean-Gabriel Pageau both had brain lapses, failing to clear the puck on multiple occasions. Pageau bounced the puck right off Blake Coleman’s skate, where it ricocheted to Yanni Gourde. He attempted a cross-crease pass, but the puck went right off a diving Andy Greene and into the net.

Ilya Sorokin reacts to giving up a goal to the Lightning.

Third time’s the charm, right? Well, not for the Islanders. Following another turnover — this time by Ryan Pulock — the Lightning rushed forward once again. Semyon Varlamov fumbled the puck in his crease, leading to a high-danger chance for David Savard. It deflected in off Killorn and dug the Islanders into a hole they could not escape from.

At that point, the Islanders had allowed eight odd-man rushes. When the period concluded, they were outshot, 19-5. It was a cesspool. A bludgeoning. A massacre.

“I have no theories. I wish I did. If I did, I would use it,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said after the worst postseason loss in franchise history. “It is on our group. We have to come out. We knew that we would have to get through the first period in [Amalie Arena].

“To me, this is about each player looking inside and knowing they have to be ready. I think they were, but our decisions and our puck management bit us right, you know where. So, we will be better at that. We understand that part of the game usually. But tonight, for whatever reason, we didn’t.”

The Islanders announced that season tickets are sold out for their inaugural season at UBS Arena in 2021-22, with more than 12,000 season tickets were purchased amid the team’s run to the Stanley Cup semifinals.

“Selling out season tickets is a true testament to this loyal fan base,” said CEO of Oak View Group Tim Leiweke. “This arena will bring the very best in both hockey and entertainment to fans across the region and we’re excited to open up the doors to the public this fall.”

The announcement also mentioned that there are only six of the building’s 56 suites still available. In addition, there are less than 250 seats available in the building’s Dime Club — an 11,000 square-foot space with views of the ice from the bar.

The $1.1 billion multipurpose arena, which is adjacent to the Belmont Park racetrack, is still under construction but is expected to be ready for next season.

“That’s exciting, you know, this is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a few years now, so it’s definitely exciting,” Pelech said Monday morning. “But I don’t think anyone’s paying too much attention to that right now just based on where we are right now in the playoffs and we love playing at the Coli.”

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