While it’s true that the Lightning is a step up in the classroom for the Islanders, the reverse is just as true, if not just as apparent. Yeah, folks, the Islanders are just as well a step up in the classroom for the Lightning.
And it was the Islanders who climbed into the first game of the Stanley Cup semifinals in Tampa on Sunday, playing their stingiest, most disciplined and controlled game of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory to take one step ahead on a journey to the final.
There’s not much separating these two teams, who play the first rematch of the four Eastern Finals since the Penguins knocked out the Bruins in 1991 and 1992. Coming back to Game of the Year Last under the Edmonton bubble, the teams have split their last six games. playoff games with Tampa Bay holding a 13-12 aggregate advantage in goals.
They could go about it a little differently, there’s a bit more flash and dash in the lineup of champions, but that doesn’t bother the Islanders at all. Indeed, the Lightning’s 38 five-on-five shooting attempts were the least the Islanders have allowed in their 13 tournament games.
“No. 1, handled the puck, No. 2, we were disciplined, No. 3, we didn’t take unnecessary risks,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said after the deserved result failed. was only threatened by the Lightning’s frenzied push in the last minute which included a 6v4 power play goal. “I think we handled the game pretty well.”
Wherever the Lightning’s talent turned, the Islanders were there with them, entering the lanes, having good sticks, reducing angles and limiting time and space. The Islanders’ relentless pursuit of the puck limited the splendid top line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov to four shots and nine attempts, three of which were blocked.
The Islanders, 51 percent on points before the game, dominated the face-offs, winning 28 of 46 (60.8%), Jean-Gabriel Pageau taking 14 of 21. Winger Leo Komarov defeated Point in one game Right wing draw that led to Ryan Pulock’s 2-0 goal at 5:36 of the third period which ultimately became the winner.
Details and discipline are what islanders feast on. They took care of the details and were disciplined enough to limit the Lightning – a powerful 41.7 percent with the man advantage – to just two power plays, both of which actually looked somewhat hazy after that. the islanders drew the first three powers. play the chances of the match.
“We were focusing on our game and I thought that was the reason we were successful,” said Semyon Varlamov, one save better than Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was a teammate on the team. from Russia for the 2016 World Cup. “We played hard, we played physically, we didn’t give stupid penalties. Only two power plays which is just great.
Everyone knows the Lightning got stronger to win last season after being swept away in the kayak in the first round of the previous year by the more physical Blue Jackets. Everyone knows that they have become tougher one-on-one, more difficult to face.
But in this one, the Islanders came away with the puck in those 50-50 cases much more often than not. Indeed, it was Jordan Eberle who came away with the puck in a 2v2 battle featuring Komarov, Point and Palat before Pulock’s goal. Eberle did not get his five-year, $ 27 million contract extension in the summer of 2019 due to his ability to win battles. But here it is and here it is, winning this one throughout an afternoon in which the Islanders had the upper hand on the walls and made their enemies turn around.
Like the one in which they forced Steven Stamkos – who hadn’t played much at all – which served as a prelude to the pass from boss Josh Bailey who pushed Mat Barzal for the opening goal of the match at 12:32 of the first period.
Boston generally likes to make play off-cycle and through bottom-to-bottom possession changes. Tampa Bay is a team that thrives in the race. Not in this one. Not at all.
“They have a lot of talent and forwards who like to make rush plays and I think you have to give our forwards a lot of credit to keep this guy high and call to allow us to keep the gaps,” said Pulock, who drew against the point line with his partner Adam Pelech. “We didn’t give them a lot of time and space.
It was one game, only one. We can expect the Lightning to boost it on Tuesday for Game 2. They’ll have to do it, facing their best and most dangerous opponent yet.