The New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals. Since neither team had met all season, it was definitely a feeling out process. However the Islanders were able to cash in on their opportunities where the Lightning were not. Both teams played extremely well defensively and didn’t give the other very many grade-A opportunities. Despite this, a bad goal allowed by Andrei Vasilevskiy turned out to be the difference.
Both teams seemed to feel each other out in the first. Neither the Lightning nor the Islanders took control of the game at any part of the first period. The Lightning were hindered by two first period penalties. One to Ryan McDonagh for tripping and one to Barclay Goodrow for roughing. Tampa’s Penalty kill was really good. They pressured the Islanders in all the right spots, and even had a few shorthanded looks. Due to these penalties, the Islanders controlled most of the possession in the first. One of the best opportunities of the game for the Lightning came late in the first when Brayden Point was able to beat the defensemen, came in alone and chipped the puck over the net. However, neither team was able to capitalize on their opportunities.
The second period was more of the same. Neither team really seemed to take control of the game. However, the Islanders would capitalize on a golden opportunity. Steven Stamkos failed to get a puck in deep on two separate attempts. The puck would deflect to Josh Bailey who fed it up ice to Matt Barzal. Barzal had a step on Jan Rutta and was able to slide the puck through the five-hole of Vasilevskiy right before he crashed into the net. The Lightning responded pretty well to given up the goal but where not able to find the equalizer.
Too little too late
The third period, just like the first and second was evenly played. This time however the Islanders received a gift. Ryan Pulock took a clapper from the point that would find its way through Vasilevskiy. The Shot was not tipped and Vasilevskiy was unscreened. This was arguably the softest goal he has given up this playoff and it turned out to be the difference. With just under a minute left in the third, Tampa Bay would finally capitalize. On their second powerplay, Brayden Point was able to chip the puck over the shoulder of Varlamov to give the Lightning a chance. However, it was too little too late as a two goal deficit was too much to make up in the final minute. Despite the Lightning not playing bad, they didn’t play particular well. They will have to make some adjustments if they hope to take game 2 on Tuesday.
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