Lightning Eliminate Islanders, Advance to Face Canadiens in 2021 Stanley Cup Final
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
The Tampa Bay Lightning have advanced to face the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final after beating the New York Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series on Friday in Tampa’s Amalie Arena.
Yanni Gourde’s short-handed goal at 1:49 of the second period was all the Lightning needed to take down the Islanders en route to their quest for back-to-back Stanley Cup victories.
Tampa Bay didn’t dominate New York on the scoreboard, but the Lightning largely controlled the game, outshooting their foe 31-18.
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov returned to the lineup after missing nearly all of Game 6 with an undisclosed injury.
Lightning C Yanni Gourde: 1 G, 5 SOG
Lightning D Viktor Hedman: 4 SOG
Lightning D Mikhail Sergachev: 5 BS
Islanders G Semyon Varlamov: 30 SV
Gourde’s Goal Puts Tampa Into Stanley Cup
Tampa won about as dominant of a 1-0 game that a team can have Friday, with Gourde’s short-handed goal proving to be the difference.
Only one penalty was called all night, as Barclay Goodrow was sent to the box for cross-checking.
Undeterred, Gourde and his teammates put the Lightning into the lead with a fantastic play.
Gord Miller of TSN gave credit to Lightning scouts for finding the unheralded players who combined to score Tampa Bay’s lone tally:
Shayna Goldman of the Too Many Men podcast gave credit to Ryan McDonagh, who didn’t get on the scoresheet for the play but was instrumental in the Lightning goal:
ESPN’s John Buccigross shouted out Gourde and Anthony Cirelli, who came up with the primary assist:
Bucci Mane @Buccigross
Cirelli is such a money player. Gets no power play time. Does all the important stuff. Most would have dumped this in..Gourde has been the Lightning’s most entertaining player. Pre workout drink in human form. Maniac. <a href=”https://t.co/KVgPGxrZM2″>https://t.co/KVgPGxrZM2</a>
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN also credited Cirelli but pointed the finger at the Islanders for questionable defense:
Joe Smith of The Athletic credited Gourde’s line in particular for their efforts all night, and Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns did too:
Bryan Burns @BBurnsNHL
Yanni Gourde and his linemates just continue to hound pucks in the offensive zone. And then Palat gets on and sets up a little 2-man game with him and Gourde for a good shot from the right circle. Varlamov makes the save. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bolts?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Bolts</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYIvsTBL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NYIvsTBL</a>
Now the Lightning are back in the Stanley Cup yet again as the Bolts look to make it back-to-back titles.
Islanders Fight Hard But Can’t Muster Much Against Lightning
Credit to the Islanders, first and foremost, for a tremendous playoff run that saw them upset the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
New York’s tremendous effort and resilience shined all playoffs, and the team can hang its head high knowing it left it out on the ice.
On Friday, Tampa simply outclassed New York, which was on its heels for much of the evening. That was the case in the first period, when Tampa outshot New York 14-5. Andrew Gross of Newsday summed up much of that 20-minute frame well:
Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov was New York’s superstar early and often, with Mollie Walker of the New York Post shouting out his effort:
But the Islanders’ offense couldn’t do much of anything, with Arthur Staple of The Athletic noting that fact:
The Islanders did make a push late in the second, but that was shut down.
Arthur Staple @StapeAthletic
<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Isles</a> got some push in the closing minutes, but Tampa shuts down every shooting lane. Down 1-0 after 2.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Isles</a> need one more third-period rally to keep their dream alive.
The third period was largely lethargic for the Isles, who still couldn’t gain much offensive traction:
That changed when the Islanders pulled Varlamov for the extra attacker, but the Isles still had trouble getting the puck out of their own end as Lightning players did an exceptional job pinning the puck deep behind New York’s goal line to kill time.
The Isles did put the pressure on as time wound down, but the Lightning blocked four shots despite New York playing with an extra attacker. New York only got one shot on goal in the 2:37 it played without Varlamov.
New York is now heading home early, but the Islanders still had a tremendous season that gives the team more hope for a brighter future.
Tampa Bay will host Montreal for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
If the Lightning win the Cup, they would be the first team to accomplish the feat since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
A Canadiens win would give Montreal an NHL-record 25 Stanley Cups and its first since 1993.
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