“It was a rocket,” the Tampa Bay forward said Friday night after the NHL scoring champion gave the Lightning a 3-2 victory that eliminated the New York Islanders from the opening round of the playoffs for the third year in a row.
“I didn’t see it go in, but I sure saw it come out,” added Modin, who had assists on all three Tampa Bay goals. “It bounced right out. I don’t know how it got there that fast.”
Despite being outplayed for much of three games on its home ice, the Lightning—the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference—took the best-of-seven series in five games. They will play the lowest seed remaining in the conference semifinals.
Tampa Bay is in the second round for the second straight year and the second time in team history.
“Those are the games you want to play. Those are the games you want to be involved in,” said St. Louis, who ended it from the left circle 4:07 into overtime. “Win or lose, you remember those games. They’re fun. You dream about this as a kid—sudden death overtime.”
Nikolai Khabibulin failed in his bid for an NHL-record fourth shutout in the series, but finished with 24 saves—two in overtime before St. Louis lifted the Lightning’s only shot of the extra period over the glove of goalie Rick DiPietro.
That won the only game of the series that wasn’t decided by a 3-0 score.
“It was a good shot, good player,” DiPietro said.
The Islanders didn’t take any consolation in playing well after being dominated in Games 3 and 4 at the Nassau Coliseum, where they had the best home record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.
“No matter how good you play, we lost the series,” DiPietro said. “We’re going home and they’re still playing.”
Oleg Kvasha scored on a power play for New York midway through the first period, ending a drought against Khabibulin, who hadn’t given up a goal to the Islanders since early in the third period of Game 2.
Tim Taylor and Ruslan Fedotenko scored late in the second period to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead that looked like it might hold up. But New York’s Mark Parrish answered with his first goal of the series with 12:32 left in regulation.
Khabibulin tied a league record with his third shutout of the series Wednesday night and stopped 113 of 115 shots in the first four games.
No goaltender has ever had four shutouts in a series and it took a video replay to confirm Khabibulin lost his bid on Kvasha’s power-play goal with 9:19 remaining in the second period.
The goal ended Khabibulin’s shutout streak at 145 minutes, nine seconds and was New York’s first since Jason Blake’s empty-netter in the final minute of the Islanders’ victory in Game 2.
DiPietro did his best to make it stand up, rejecting everything the Lightning had to offer until Taylor and Fedotenko broke through within a 2:04 span late in a second period in which Tampa Bay outshot the Islanders 15-5.
Modin, who had eight points in the series, took a shot from in front of the net before Taylor tapped in a rebound. Then he helped Fedotenko capitalize on a sequence in which DiPietro lost his stick during a Lightning onslaught.
The New York goaltender blocked one shot with his legs, but was caught out of position when Modin’s shot glanced off his pads to Fedotenko an instant after Islanders center Dave Scatchard hastily handed his stick to the flustered goalie.
Fedotenko’s goal was scored so quickly that DiPietro didn’t have a chance to get a proper grip on the stick.
Modin made the right play in overtime, too, getting the puck to St. Louis heading up the left side.
“He gave me a chance to walk in,” St. Louis said. “I knew he was going to the net and the puck was rolling. I was just trying to put it on net, and ithappened to go in.”
The Lightning played without injured forward Cory Stillman and defenseman Jassen Cullimore. … Khabibulin was the 11th goaltender to have three shutouts in a series. Toronto’s Ed Belfour became the 12th on Friday when he shut out Ottawa for the third time in that series. … The Islanders are 5-7 when facing elimination in Game 5. … The NHL record for shutouts by two teams in a series is five, done in two seven-game series between Toronto and Detroitin 1945 and 1950. … The Lightning outshot the Islanders 36-24 in regulation.