TAMPA, Fla. — The Lightning are the defending Stanley Cup champions. However whilst they cited their very own psychological errors and errors as a major consider Sunday’s consequence, it was clear the Islanders had been the higher crew.
They managed five-on-five play and Semyon Varlamov outdueled Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy because the Islanders gained a bodily Sport 1 of the NHL semifinal sequence — a rematch of final season’s Jap Convention finals gained by the Lightning in six video games — 2-1 at Amalie Enviornment earlier than a largely subdued crowd of 14,513.
“For those who take a look at the way in which the playoffs are going for us, our video games simply proceed to get higher because it’s gone alongside, and that’s what you need out of your group,” Jordan Eberle mentioned. “You’re within the remaining 4, you need to trust. It is a good begin for us however we all know they’re going to come back out pushing subsequent sport and it simply will get more durable and more durable.”
Sport 2 is Tuesday night time earlier than the sequence returns to Nassau Coliseum for Sport 3 on Thursday night time.
Varlamov made 30 saves however was denied his fifth profession playoff shutout on Brayden Level’s power-play objective with 53.7 seconds left in regulation because the Lightning skated six-on-four with Vasilevskiy (29 saves) off for an additional skater.
Nonetheless, the Islanders held the Lightning’s potent high trio of Level between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov to 3 pictures.
“We had a very good begin in the present day,” Varlamov mentioned. “We performed nicely the whole sport. We performed arduous, bodily. We had been specializing in our sport in the present day and that’s why we had success. We didn’t hand over silly penalties.”
The Lightning went 1-for-2 on the facility play.
“Our work ethic was there,” mentioned Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose crew had been idle since eliminating the Hurricanes on Tuesday. “Our compete was there. Our minds weren’t there. A few of our selections had been off.”
The Islanders wrapped up their six-game win over the Bruins on Wednesday.
“Simply the depth from everyone tonight,” Mathew Barzal mentioned. “Our protection, they closed the door on a number of performs, a number of rushes. I actually favored how all of us performed tonight.”
Defenseman Ryan Pulock gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead at 5:36 of the third interval with a tough shot from the precise level which will have been Vasilevskiy’s solely mistake of the sport as he had a very good look.
The Islanders began creating possibilities by forcing turnovers within the second interval. Josh Bailey stole the puck and took it to the crease earlier than lifting a backhander off the crossbar at 2:31. Anthony Beauvillier took the puck from Level and Vasilevskiy stopped his backhander at 5:56.
Lastly, Bailey sprung Barzal off Steven Stamkos’ misplay within the impartial zone and Barzal bought to the crease and beat Vasilevskiy by way of his pads to offer the Isles a 1-0 lead at 12:32.
The sport was the primary for both crew this season performed exterior of their very own division.
“Each groups are fairly nicely the identical as they had been final 12 months,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz mentioned. “Systematically we’re fairly comparable. There hasn’t been any overhaul on each side. Fairly nicely what we anticipated and, in some methods, that was good. It was a very good begin for us.
“I truly thought there could be a feeling-out course of for at the least a interval, possibly half a sport,” Trotz added. “Nevertheless it didn’t appear that approach. It appeared like each groups had been acquainted and each groups went at it.”
Each goalies confirmed early that targets doubtless can be at a premium on this sequence.
Vasilevskiy stopped Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the left put up and Kyle Palmieri off the precise put up at 9:21 of the primary interval as a part of his 14 saves within the interval. Varlamov stopped 11 first-period pictures, together with sticking inside Alex Killorn’s slap shot from the slot at 16:44.
The groups set a chippy tone that’s more likely to intensify within the sequence. Matt Martin caught defenseman David Savard with a heavy examine eight seconds into the sport and Cal Clutterbuck bought concerned with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Killorn then leveled Barzal within the impartial zone at 8:05 of the primary interval.