An 8-2 triumph in Game 1 and a narrow 2-1 win in Game 2 have given the Tampa Bay Lightning (No. 2 seed in the East) a 2-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference Final matchup against the New York Islanders (No. 6 seed). Will the Isles manage to cut the Bolts’ lead in half in Game 3?
Bolts Extend Series LeadThe Tampa Bay Lightning (12-3-0) recorded their sixth consecutive victory after taking a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference Final matchup against the New York Islanders with a 2-1 win in Game 2 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday. Nikita Kucherov (6 goals, 22 points during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs), who finished the regular season, leading the Bolts with 33 goals and 85 points, smashed in the winner with a one-timer from an across-the-ice pass from Ryan McDonagh (1 goal, 5 points) with just 8.8 seconds remaining in the game. Victor Hedman (7 goals, 13 points) scored in the first period, while Brayden Point, who leads the Lightning with 23 points this postseason (8 goals, 15 assists), left the contest in the middle frame for undisclosed reasons, thus ending a franchise-high five-game playoff goal streak.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots on Wednesday, taking his current performance status to 12-3 for the ongoing campaign with a 1.86 GAA and a .932 save percentage. He has gone 27-18 in his postseason career with a 2.47 GAA and a .918 save percentage, and is 7-4-0 against the Isles historically with a 2.33 GAA and a .930 save percentage. The Lightning are scoring the 4th highest amount of goals per game since the restart of hockey (3.27), while allowing the 3rd lowest quantity defensively (2.20). The team is 8th in power play (20.5%) and 11th in penalty kill (82.5%).
Isles Lose In Last MinuteA last-gasp heartbreak spoiled the day for the New York Islanders (11-7-0), who were edged out with a score of 2-1 by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Final series at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday. After being thrashed in Game 1 with a count of 8-2 on Monday, the Isles returned with more purpose, outshooting the Bolts 28-21, forcing further 24 blocks and killing all three of their penalties, but failed to convert on four power-play opportunities of their own, including a 5-on-3 for 38 seconds, ultimately losing the game with just nine seconds remaining on the clock. Matt Martin (5 goals, 5 points this postseason) tallied the only strike for the Isles, opening the scoring on the first shot of the game at 1:24 of the first frame.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves on Wednesday and has now gone 9-5 for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2.21 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He has registered a 22-18 previous postseason total with a 2.43 GAA and a .914 save percentage, and has picked up a 10-7-2 past tally against the Lightning with a 2.34 GAA and a .923 save percentage. The Islanders are netting the 5th highest number of goals per game during the ongoing campaign (3.17), while giving up the 4th lowest amount on the defensive end (2.28). They are 15th in power play (16.2%) and 16th in penalty kill (79.6%).
- Islanders are 5-1 in their last 6 Friday games.