NHL Eastern Conference Final Game Night: 9-7-20 Islanders v Lightning

Lightning construct a snowman over the burned out remains of the Islanders goaltending corps(e).


Tampa Bay Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Made his situational saves especially later in the First Period and then drank from a cool mountain stream named goal support.

First Period
1:14 TB Point (7), (Coleman, Schenn)
4:33 NYI Eberle (4), (Lee, Barzal)(PP)
8:12 TB Hedman (6), (Point, Kucherov)(PP)
10:46 TB McDonagh (1), (Kucherov, Sergachev)

Second Period
4:03 TB Gourde (4), (Maroon, Shattenkirk)
13:18 TB Point (8), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
5:51 TB Kucherov (5), (Point, Shattenkirk)
8:46 NYI Leddy (3), (Lee, Eberle)
9:31 TB Palat (6), (Point, Kucherov)
13:15 TB Gourde (5), (Shattenkirk, Hedman)(PP)

Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars.

After a Boston series that pretty much to script, tonight's game did not at all follow any sort of reason or rhyme other than the Lightning just beat the crap out of the Islanders. I thought with the layoff they would look flat, but they dominated 5v5 play in the First Period. The game was chopped up by a lot of special teams, which hasn't been the Lightning's forte in this playoffs, but it didn't matter. The Lightning just had it cooking tonight and once the goal horn sounded for an after-the-fact video review to award Yanni Gourde his first goal of the game to make it 4-1 in the early Second Period the rout was on. And every time the Isles tried to push back, the Lightning seemed ready to physically punk the Islanders back into submission. Luke Schenn built a penthouse apartment in Brock Nelson's head for as much as he physically messed with Nelson after whistles, even after the game was well out of hand and there was no big reason for the Lightning to be the aggressors.

If you're the Lightning you have to expect the Islanders to make a stand in Game Two. The Lightning's confidence has to be soaring and the Islanders' has to be in the toilet and their young players looked frustrated beyond belief. Physically, given how much energy they've exerted to this point, the Isles can't fall down 2-0 and put themselves in a position where they have to win four out of five to advance. They just won't have the gas. And, more importantly, psychologically that team has to prove it's capable of competing with the Lightning after losing a playoff series to the Lightning in the not too too distant past in 2016 and getting smashed 8-2 in Game One of their second playoff series against Tampa Bay in four years. If you're the Lightning, if you can get the first goal or two on the Islanders Wednesday night you might just break the Isles' belief. Yes, Trotz is a warlock. Yes, I expect a much better effort from the Islanders in Game Two. But, if you're the Lightning, you have the chance to throw a drowning team an anvil in Game Two and they look like this year they might just have that killer instinct to do so.

Who should the Isles start in Game Two? Um, zero good options there. Greiss has already lost to the Lightning in a playoff series and he went out really quick tonight. Varlamov, by the end of the game in his relief stint, looked ready to cry. Unless they've got Ken Dryden in his prime stashed in one of their road trunks, they've got problems. And, even if the skaters in front of them play better in Game Two, if they can't get a plus performance from whoever they roll out in that contest they may be cooked.

Victor Hedman only had to play 20:31 in that game? It's a big enough advantage for the Lightning just to have the guy, but to give him nights where he can have a mortal person's workload to conserve energy, too?

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.