Fri, 30 Jul 2021

Islanders stun Lightning 2-1 in semifinal opener

Field Level Media
14 Jun 2021, 08:19 GMT+10

Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock both scored goals to give the visiting New York Islanders a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and first blood in their Stanley Cup semifinal series.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots for the Islanders, who have won four straight games.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven semifinal series will be Tuesday in Tampa.

Brayden Point tallied for the Lightning while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who trail in a series for the first time this year.

After a scoreless opening period in which the visitors withstood an early Tampa Bay push before recovering, Barzal's breakaway tally beyond the midway point opened the scoring. Josh Bailey intercepted Steven Stamkos' ill-advised cross-ice pass just inside the New York blueline and sent a long pass for Barzal to receive at top speed.

Barzal held off a check and slipped a shot through Vasilevskiy's legs to net his fourth goal in the last five games at the 12:32 mark of the middle frame.

Pulock's point-shot blast doubled the New York lead at 5:36 of the third period and held up as the game-winner. New York's forecheckers did a masterful job to gain the puck in the offensive zone and, after Jordan Eberle pulled the puck from the scrum and sent it to the point, Pulock fired a rocket that cleanly beat Vasilevskiy

Point put the Lightning on the board when he netted a power-play goal with 53.7 seconds remaining in regulation, finishing a wild scramble while his team had pulled the goalie for the extra attacker, but that was as close as the Lightning could get.

Although he wasn't called upon to make the highlight-reel saves Vasilevskiy provided, Varlamov was full marks for the victory with a couple of notable saves against Alex Killorn.

As well, his team did a remarkable job keeping Tampa Bay's big guns in check. Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov both managed only one shot on goal each as the Lightning were nearly shutout in the playoffs for the first time since their Game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals on May 23, 2018.

--Field Level Media

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