The Tampa Bay Lightning will continue their Stanley Cup defense after they blanked the New York Islanders in Game 7. The building was rocking and the Lightning delivered a full 60 minute performance. They will play for Lord Stanley’s Cup against the Montreal Canadiens.
Out of the Gate
Tampa Bay came to play right from the start. Their forecheck, which was missing for parts of game 6, was back in full force. They were quick to pucks and gave New York fits coming out of their own end. Despite putting up 15 shots on goal and numerous scoring chances, the Bolt’s could not find the back of net.
OH MY GOURDE
The New York Islanders are a tremendous second period team. It definitely felt like the Islanders had an advantage after keeping Tampa Bay off the board in the first. Despite this, Tampa Bay went back to work in the offensive zone. Just 50 seconds in the period, it looked like the Lightning might run into some trouble. Barclay Goodrow was whistled for crosschecking (of all things) behind Varlamov. The Lightning’s penalty kill had been really good this series and they would add another accolade.
Halfway through the penalty kill Alex Killorn would find Anthony Cirelli in the neutral zone after a block and nice pass from Ryan McDonagh. Cirelli was able to beat Nick Leddy to the corner and curl up. He found a wide open Yanni Gourde in the slot who was able to snap it past Varlamov for a 1-0 lead. This was the first game 7 shorthanded goal in team history. As it turns out, this is all the Lightning would need to continue their cup defense.
Rolling 4 Lines
A big reason the Lightning get the chance to move forward in their cup defense is the play of all four lines. In particular, the 3rd and 4th lines are skilled and tough enough to bring the game to their opponent. The 4th line of Tyler Johnson, Pat Maroon, and Ross Colton played a fantastic game. Barclay Goodrow held the puck along the boards against 3 Islanders in the last minute of the game, denying New York the opportunity to get things going. The Lightning played some of their best hockey in the closing minutes in large part to guys like Goodrow, Coleman, Johnson and Maroon.
To win a game 1-0, a total team effort on defense is required. This is exactly what the Lightning did. Tampa was able to limit the Islanders to single-digit Shots on Goal in every period. New York only mustered 18 in total. They Blocked 21 shots including 4 huge ones in the closing minute. The biggest part however, was that they did it for a full 60 minutes. Although a relatively easy night for Andrei Vasilevskiy, he earned his 4th straight shutout to close out a series. The Lightning now improve to 13-0 following a loss the last two post seasons, a major reason Tampa Bay will continue their cup defense.
Stanley Cup Defense
The Tampa Bay Lightning will play for the Stanley Cup for the 4th time in franchise history. They will face a Montreal Canadiens team who makes up for their lack of skill with hard play, lack of mistakes, and some bright young guns. Tampa Bay will have to play structured defensively and take advantage of their opportunities if they want to capture they franchise’s 3rd Stanley Cup.
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