Lightning Strike Again, Take 2-1 Series Lead Over Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point continued his heroics from Game 2 of their playoff series against the New York Islanders, helping lead Tampa to a 2-1 series advantage in the Stanley Cup semifinals.
Point capitalized on a second-period opportunity to give his team a 2-1 lead in Game 3, and lights-out goalkeeping by Andrei Vasilevskiy locked down the victory. Vasilevskiy turned away 27 shots, good for a .964 save percentage.
Shockingly, the Islanders pulling their goaltender in the third period – with 1:48 left in the final frame – wasn’t enough to produce a shot on goal, and the Islanders went down in the series with a whimper.
The ability to stop the Islanders from worthwhile scoring opportunities was a consistent theme in the third game of the series between the two heavyweights. The staunch defense has been a key for the defending Stanley Cup winners, who are now 6-1 on the road in the 2021 playoffs.
The Islanders are keenly aware of the Lightning’s ability to sneak out wins.
Matt Martin, an Islanders winger, commented on Tampa Bay’s knack for winning. “They’re the defending Stanley Cup champions and they know what it takes to win,” he said. “They know what they have to do in their D zone.”
The initial flurry of Islander shots was turned aside by Vasilevskiy, which stunted New York’s offense for the rest of the night. The only goal the Islanders managed to sneak by Vasilevskiy was a lucky one, with a bouncing puck pushed through the goaltender’s legs after a sustained scrum in front of the net – a “garbage goal” that felt less predicated on skill and more on the uneven surface of the ice gifting New York a tie.
Point then went on to score in the final minute of the second frame of action, and lacking the luck that gave them their first goal, the Islanders remained scoreless the rest of the way. Point’s streak of consecutive games with a goal in the playoffs is reaching historic markers; should he score next game, he will be tied with Mario Lemieux, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Sakic and Claude Lemieux at seven, the most in the past 30 years.
The Islanders will look for a quicker start to their offense next game. the Lightning have lost this postseason the most when the opponent scores first (they are 0-3 in these instances). Conversely, they are 10-1 when scoring first.
The Islanders have fallen down 2-1 in their previous three playoff series, but have yet to play a team as good as the Lightning. Nonetheless, they will look to replicate their pattern of victory again.
Game 4 is Saturday night in New York. Game 5 will take place in Tampa on Monday.