The New York Islanders were mentally prepared for Game 1 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. The Tampa Bay Lightning were not.
“Our work ethic was there. Our compete [level] was there. Our minds weren’t there,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team lost 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. “Some of our decisions were poor. That’s what happens when you get this deep into the playoffs. You have to have everything working in unison and we just weren’t there tonight.”
The Lightning looked disjointed in Game 1. Their passes didn’t connect. They weren’t on the same page offensively.
Most importantly, they failed to protect the puck against one of the most adept defensive teams in the NHL. Tampa Bay had seven giveaways in the game, including one by Steven Stamkos that led to Mathew Barzal’s opening goal in the second period. The Islanders, by contrast, had only one giveaway. “We knew it was going to be tight. On the first goal, I was trying to make a play, and you see what can happen.