Following an eight-game homestand, the Tampa Bay Lightning began a quick two-game road trip that got off to a rough start before it even began. The Bolts were scheduled to arrive in Brooklyn yesterday, but bad weather in the northeast delayed their arrival until about six hours before puck drop on Thursday.
Despite the travel issues, the Lightning roared off to a fast start against the New York Islanders before holding on for a 7-6 victory at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in what turned out to be perhaps the wildest game of the season. Although Tampa Bay never trailed in this game, they nearly blew three-goal and four-goal leads against an Islanders team fading from the playoff picture. Despite being out-shot 41-36 and allowing three goals on five New York power plays, the Bolts still found a way to extend their lead over Boston to six points for first place in the Atlantic Division. In addition, the Tampa Bay’s victory was their 51st of the season, a new single-season franchise record.
The Lightning started off the scoring with two goals early in the first period, as Anthony Cirelli and Tyler Johnson each scored 25 seconds apart.
However, the game got a little sloppy and a string of penalties followed, giving the Islanders their first power play goal of the night off the stick of Ryan Pulock. The Lightning responded when Victor Hedman hit a top shelf gem, bringing the score to 3-1. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy continued making big saves which kept the Bolts’ two-goal lead intact going into intermission.
Early in the second period, the Islanders had a man-advantage, but Brayden Point’s shorthanded goal put Tampa Bay up 4-1. The game began to seesaw at that point, with a pair of Islanders goals by Pulock and Anders Lee followed by three more goals by the Lightning. J.T. Miller scored two of those goals, his sixth and seventh since joining the team. Mikhail Sergachev notched the other on a power play, his first goal since December 16, putting the Lightning up 7-3 at the second intermission.
Sloppy play by the Lightning in the third period nearly led to a huge Islanders comeback.
New York scored three goals within the first 4:36 of the final period, giving the Lightning a reason to panic and a reason for the crowd in Brooklyn to stick around for the rest of the game. Although the Lightning nearly blew a four-goal lead, they held on over the final 15 minutes for the victory.
Tampa Bay will take on the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Neward, NJ on Saturday night as puck drops at 7 pm.
-Hedman briefly exited the game with an injury after crashing into the boards in the second period, but quickly returned to the ice and played the remainder of the game.
-Lightning head coach Jon Cooper recorded his 239th win, tying John Tortorella for the most wins for a head coach in Bolts history.
-The Lightning also now have 106 points, the same number of points as the Stanley Cup team of 2003-04. The franchise record is 108, set in 2014-15.
-Vasilevskiy stopped 35 of 41 shots for the victory, the 83rd of his career. He now sits in a tie with Nikolai Khabibulin for the second-most goalie wins in team history.
-Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson gave up six goals on 24 shots before being pulled in the second period for Jaroslav Halak. Halak stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief.
-Point’s goal was his 28th of the season and snapped a six-game goal drought.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Brayden Point – One shorthanded goal, two assists.
2nd Star: Anthony Beauvillier – Two goals, one assist.
3rd Star: J.T. Miller – Two goals
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