The Eastern Conference Final features the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders battling head-to-head. Tampa is known for its explosive offence. New York is known for its defence and its ability to win the third period.
A lot of people thought coming into Game 1 that Tampa would have the advantage over New York with the boost of getting Nikita Kucherov back, who was injured in Game 5. Even without their captain Steven Stamkos for another round of the playoffs, that proved to be true as the Lightning defeated the Islanders 8-2.
New York Islanders Defence No Match for Tampa Bay Lightning Offence
Quick Start for Tampa Bay Lightning Offence
It has been a week since the last time Tampa played, defeating the Boston Bruins in five games. Some people assumed they might be a little slow to start. Brayden Point proved them wrong scoring 1:14 into the first period, extending his point streak to seven games. Point had no problem getting past Islanders defencemen Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, skating right into the crease and scoring on Thomas Greiss.
Tampa added two more goals from defencemen Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh. Point passed the puck back to Hedman. Hedman wasn’t being guarded by the Islanders defence. He scored an easy power-play goal at 8:12 from what the NBC Sports announcers described as 44 feet in front of the net to make it 2-1. Once again, the Islanders’ defence wasn’t watching the Lightning. They left McDonagh free to shoot after a pass from Kucherov, making it 3-1. This period wound up being the difference-maker in Game 1, as the Islanders were never able to come back.
Islanders Lack Defence They Are Known for
The Islanders’ defence was their biggest strength before this game, but in this game, it was their biggest weakness. The Islanders’ defence always seemed to be a step behind Tampa’s offence. They gave Tampa too much room to work with in front of the net. It wound up costing them big. The Islanders pulled Greiss after he gave up three goals on Tampa’s first nine shots of the game with next to no help from their defence.
Once Semyon Varlamov was put in, the Islanders gave up five more goals for the rest of the game. The defence seemed to get a little better as the game went on, but by that point, they had already dug themselves in too deep of a hole to even hope to get out of.
However, the defence was able to help on the scoring front. Defenceman Nick Leddy scored New York’s second goal of the game.
Lightning Have Dominant Night on the Power Play
The Lightning capitalized on their power plays in Game 1. They were three for six on the power play with goals from Hedman, Point and Yanni Gourde. Hedman scored Tampa’s second goal of the game on the power play. On Point’s power-play goal, he was able to knock in the puck thanks to a pass from Kucherov to make it 5-1. Gourde scored the third goal of the game on a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk at 13:15 of the third period.
What This Means
With two goals from both Point and Gourde and one goal from each Hedman, McDonagh, Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, Tampa’s offence does not seem like it will slow down anytime soon. Not to mention that Point and Kucherov both had five-point games. If the Islanders want to win the next game, their defence will need to be faster to catch up with Tampa, especially to start the game. The Islanders offence is going to need to step up as well. Two goals a game is not going to cut it against the Lightning. If the Islanders can manage to score first or to not get down by more than one goal, they may have a chance to win Game 2.
Embed from Getty Images