Throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs we’ll be keeping track of all the action around the league, and bringing you all of the results in one place.
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders
Back again for a matinee game, the Islanders seemed to be riding high on the momentum of the Game 3 win to get themselves back into the series, and were looking to keep that rolling and make things interesting and tie this one up. They would have their work cut out from them, that was pretty apparent, as the Lightning were putting on a possession clinic early on in this one, holding the Islanders to just five shots in the first period and keeping that same momentum rolling into the second period. But, even with that good work, it was one bad play that had the Islanders with the first lead of the game. Just past the midway point of the second period, the Islanders made a pretty innocuous looking dump in, and Andrei Vasilevskiy went to play the puck and turned it over, giving it right to Anthony Beauvillier, who was able to initiate a bit of a cycle, and in the end it was Brock Nelson beating Vasilevskiy with a shot.
And as the celebrations were happening and we were setting up for the next faceoff, a flash of worry popped into probably at least some of our heads—we’ve seen games like this during these playoffs, where one side positively dominates in the number of chances, but the other goalie just has their number. Is that what we were looking at here?
The answer was a quick and pretty resounding no. With the puck dumped into the Lightning’s side off the faceoff, Vasilevskiy (without issue or drama) retrieved it, got it over to Yanni Gourde, who made a pretty stellar stretch pass to Blake Coleman to spring him for a breakaway, and he beat Semyon Varlamov with a great move. And they weren’t done yet! On the next shift, once again on the rush, the Lightning capitalized on some crisp passing, and Ondej Palat pushed them into the lead.
We saw some pushback from the Islanders in the third period, but the Lightning still found themselves getting the better of the chances, and they were able to find a way to break through again. After an active shift earlier in the period that nearly saw him scoring, Brayden Point broke through for real, when just three and a half minutes into the third, the Lightning got moving on the rush and Point parked himself in front of the net, in perfect position to deflect Palat’s pass into the net. The Islanders tried still to rally from there, but the hole they were in was too deep, and got even deeper still, when they pulled Varlamov late in the third and Pat Maroon picked up the empty net goal. That effectively sealed the game, and pushed the Islanders to the brink of elimination.