Victor Hedman, Lightning Beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2 to Even NHL Playoff Series
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
The Tampa Bay Lightning evened their Stanley Cup Semifinal series with the visiting New York Islanders at one game apiece after winning 4-2 on Tuesday in Amalie Arena.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman posted a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay, which scored three unanswered goals after the two semifinalists finished the first period tied at one.
Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta scored even-strength tallies for the Bolts, while Hedman capped the scoring on the power play. Right wing Nikita Kucherov had three assists for the Lightning, who outshot the Islanders 33-26.
The Islanders’ first goal, courtesy of Brock Nelson at 13:30 of the first period, also came with the extra-man edge. Mathew Barzal capped the night’s scoring by netting the Islanders’ second goal with 3:16 left in the game.
The Lightning, who defeated the Islanders in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals en route to a Stanley Cup win, are looking to become the first back-to-back championship winners since the Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished the feat in 2016 and 2017.
Lightning D Victor Hedman: 1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG
Lightning C Brayden Point: 1 G, +2, 2 SOG
Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov: 3 A, +2, 2 SOG
Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy: 24 SV
Islanders C Brock Nelson: 1 G, 1 SOG
Islanders C Mathew Barzal: 1 G, 3 SOG
Lightning Bounce Back With Fantastic Team Effort
Tampa Bay went 59 minutes without scoring a goal in Game 1 before Point got the Lightning on the board with 54 seconds left. By then, it was too little and too late as the Islanders held on for the 2-1 victory.
Game 2 was a far different story, as the Lightning took advantage of the Islanders’ defense and put up four to even the series.
The Islanders committed a turnover in their own zone in the first period, and the Lightning took advantage.
Point finished the job by one-timing a pass from David Savard to open the scoring.
New York’s defense failed again in a different way for the Lightning’s second goal, as a long Hedman pass somehow found its way from the Lightning goal line to the Islander blue line, where Kucherov waited.
Kucherov then evaded the Islander defense and fired off a pass to Palat, who netted the go-ahead goal.
The Islanders had issues clearing the puck yet again in the third period, and the Lightning took advantage. This time, it was Rutta who fired a slap shot that slithered through traffic and into the net.
NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports
Tampa Bay extends their lead [email protected] | #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/lONESBKYhW
The pressure only continued on the power play, when Kucherov returned Hedman’s favor from earlier in the game by finding the defenseman, who then scored to complete Tampa Bay’s four-goal outing.
NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports
Power play goal [email protected] | #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/pU9dfSMyUZ
Overall, this was a massive win for Tampa Bay as it avoided losing its two series-opening games at home. The Islanders still have home-ice advantage by virtue of winning Game 1, but the Lightning grabbed momentum back as the series shifts to Long Island.
Islanders Struggle in Game 2, But Series Far From Over
The Islanders scored 15 goals over their last three games in the second round of the NHL playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
New York’s bread-and-butter is solid defense and goaltending (second-fewest goals allowed in NHL) rather than its offensive effort (No. 20 in goals), but the offensive onslaught led the Islanders into the league semifinals.
New York seems to be regressing to the mean more against Tampa Bay, however.
The Islanders got away with it in Game 1 as Tampa Bay couldn’t get on the board until it was too late in a 2-1 result.
Untimely, costly and rare defensive miscues combined with the Islanders’ offensive efforts put New York in a no-win situation on Tuesday though.
That being said, the Islanders are still in a good spot. New York has home-ice advantage by virtue of the Game 1 win and can finish this series off with three wins in its own barn.
In addition, the Islanders have shown the ability to break out offensively at times this postseason, enabling them to overtake their competition and win games.
That hasn’t happened yet in this series, but certainly can if players like Kyle Palmeiri (seven postseason goals), Nelson (seven) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (team-high 13 playoff points) get going.
Overall, this wasn’t a good night for the Islanders, but now they’re headed back to Long Island, where a rabid fanbase hoping to see its team return to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1984 awaits.
Game 3 will occur on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. The Islanders will host the contest, which will occur in Uniondale, New York’s Nassau Coliseum. USA will be the game’s television home.
For all the latest Sports News Click Here