So the important query arising from the Lightning’s 4-2, Game 2 victory in Tampa on Tuesday that squared this Cup semifinal at one-all is that this:
If the defending champs proceed to play with the identical depth and alacrity as they did on this one, can the Islanders elevate their sport, keep away from the bizarre variety of pressured and unforced errors they dedicated on this one and match the Lightning throughout this sequence?
Look, the sky didn’t fall in on the Islanders on this night time, by no means. It was 2-1, Tampa Bay, after two, with the Ondrej Palat’s tiebreaking second objective at 13:15 of the second scored whereas all 4 officers missed a fairly blatant too-many-men infraction.
But, hey, Brock Nelson scored to tie the sport 1-1 at 13:30 of the primary whereas on an influence play they by no means ought to have been awarded, the refs overeager to hit Brayden Point with a goaltender interference penalty when he was truly shoved into Semyon Varlamov by Adam Pelech. So actually, not a lot of a kick.
“It’s hockey,” mentioned Matt Martin, certainly one of his workforce’s most impactful gamers who the truth is was one of many six on the ice for the ultimate 33.1 seconds when the Islanders had pulled Varlamov. “It happens.”
Beyond that, the objective was scored after the Islanders did not clear the zone regardless of having management behind the online. That doesn’t normally occur. And there was just about a repeat on Jan Rutta’s 3-1 objective from the fitting level at 2:16 of the third interval that adopted a mishap on what might have and may have been a managed breakout.
Forced and unforced, there have been simply too many errors, too many lagging particulars. Again, although, did you count on the Lightning to abdicate?
“We knew a very good hockey team was going to have a desperate push,” head coach Barry Trotz mentioned. “From my standpoint, we is usually a lot higher and we shall be. We knew they had been going to have their ‘A’ sport.
“We’ve got to execute a little bit better and then we’ve got to battle that out. The third goal was a prime example of that. Too loose on the play, not enough execution and a little bit of everything on the exits. We’ve got to have those details and we didn’t have it.”
The distinction within the tenor of the sport was palpable. Sunday was for the most part a playoff stroll in the park. This was a pitched battle from the beginning that by no means fairly let up. There had been unwell emotions from the outset that hardly subsided. The sequence has been joined. Again, you had been anticipating one thing else?
“We knew they were going to come with a good response,” Nelson mentioned of the membership that’s 11-0 following playoff defeats the final two years, and he was appropriate.
The distinction, too, is that the Lightning difference-makers stepped up after having been rendered impotent in Game 1. The Palat-Brayden Point-Nikita Kucherov triumvirate dominated shifts and accounted for a pair of objectives. Victor Hedman, not a lot of an element in any respect in Game 1, was appropriately massive even earlier than scoring a power-play objective to make it 4-1 halfway by means of the third interval.
On Sunday, the Lightning drew solely two energy performs, the primary awarded within the last minute of the second interval. In this one, there have been 5 Tampa Bay energy performs, the primary coming simply 4:16 into the match. The Lightning solely scored one with the benefit, however 5 tries is tempting destiny.
The Islanders hung in with the champs however by no means had been in a position to rattle them. Andrei Vasilevskiy was excellent, making his save of the sport by denying Anthony Beauvillier on a backhand in entrance with 0:07 remaining within the second to protect the 2-1 lead. But for all of the netminder’s superiority, he was not examined with amount, there weren’t sufficient second tries.
Mat Barzal did what he might, scoring his fifth objective within the final six video games to slender the margin to 4-2 with 3:16 remaining however he was afforded little time and area. There was a neat spin-a-rama from the left early within the third, however the Lightning, which sicced the Ryan McDonagh-Erik Cernak pair on him because the matchup, was not about to permit No. 13 dazzle too brightly.
Tampa performed up-tempo however clamped down as effectively. The Islanders had a draw simply exterior the offensive blue line with 2:07 remaining and an additional attacker on the ice. They generated one shot and two makes an attempt the remainder of the best way.
Next cease is The Old Barn on Thursday, the place the Islanders will try to carry serve by means of the following two matches. That shall be no small task enjoying towards a workforce that not solely seemed like a Stanley Cup champion on this one, however, come to consider it, is the Stanley Cup champion.