It has been a very long time because the Islanders and Lightning have confronted off in any type of recreation, not to mention a postseason conflict. To be precise, it has been 265 days. That was once they met within the 2020 Jap Convention finals. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they didn’t go toe-to-toe within the common season this 12 months.
And whereas the rating was precisely the identical as the ultimate in Recreation 6 of final 12 months’s battle, the outcome was totally different in Recreation 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinal collection. On this one, the Islanders had been the victorious squad, skating away with a 2-1 win.
Listed below are three takeaways from New York’s Recreation 1 win:
Mat Barzal delivered
As talked about in Sporting Information’ collection preview, Barzal’s play is important to getting New York into the Stanley Cup Ultimate. The Isles want him to be at his greatest. He struggled at first of the playoffs, amassing simply three factors in opposition to the Penguins and going goalless in his first eight video games. Then, he flipped the change and has had six factors — three of them objectives — within the final six video games.
Barzal continued to roll Sunday. He notched the important first objective with an outracing-the-defender, net-crashing, five-hole effort. After receiving a stretch go from Josh Bailey, he bought previous 2021 Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman and buried the puck behind netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I would say it is extra so, simply, I am really placing the puck within the web,” Barzal stated when requested what has modified in the previous couple of video games. “I believe my probabilities all through the entire season, within the playoffs, are all the time there. It is only a matter of beating a goalie. . . . That is the playoffs, so typically, in some video games we have performed, I needn’t get the fifth objective in after we’re up 4-1. So, it is only a matter of attempting to be there for the boys once they want me and simply doing the precise issues.”
Tampa Bay’s energy play is deadly
The Lightning entered the semis with a 41.7 % effectiveness on the ability play.
“Anytime you play a staff like Tampa or Boston or anybody with a deadly energy play, you do not need to be within the field all night time, ‘trigger that is simply, you are simply asking for a loss,” Barzal famous.
New York did a great job of enjoying a tough recreation whereas not taking too many penalties — one within the final minute of the center body (interference on Kyle Palmieri) that it killed off, and a high-sticking by Brock Nelson with 98 seconds left. Brayden Level did get the Lightning’s lone tally on that final man benefit, which was successfully a 6-on-4 with Vasilevskiy pulled.
After going 1 for two on the ability play, the Lightning are actually at 42.1 effectiveness. Evidently, the Islanders want to stay disciplined.
Recreation 2 might be attention-grabbing
It is apparent that the Islanders walked into Amalie Area with a recreation plan, and so they executed it to perfection. Final 12 months within the convention finals, they had been blown out 8-2 in Recreation 1. Issues had been undoubtedly not the identical on this 12 months’s opener.
“No. 1 is simply managing a puck,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz stated when requested what the keys had been Sunday. “Two, we had been disciplined. Three, we did not take quite a lot of threat, pointless threat. . . . I believed we made fairly good selections.”
On the Lightning’s bench, Jon Cooper was something however joyful together with his staff’s decision-making.
“Our work ethic was there, our compete was there, our minds weren’t there,” he stated. “A few of our selections had been poor. That is what occurs while you get this deep into the playoffs. There are solely 4 groups left and you need to have all the pieces working in unison. We simply weren’t fairly there tonight.”
New York did a great job of conserving the Lightning away from the entrance of the web as goalie Semyon Varlamov solely confronted three high-danger pictures at 5v5 and stopped 8 of 9 general (per Pure Stat Trick). Varlamov made 30 saves whereas Vasilevskiy turned apart 29 pictures.
There’s nothing extra the Islanders would really like than going wheels up again to New York with a 2-0 collection lead, however there is a purpose the Lightning are the defending Cup champions. Whereas this can be the primary time it has trailed in a collection in 2021, Tampa Bay has a talented squad that won’t go quietly into the night time.
“We knew it was going to be extraordinarily robust,” captain Steven Stamkos stated. “We have been on this place earlier than, so there’s undoubtedly no panic on this room. However we do notice that it is going to be a particularly tight collection and we simply should anticipate that going ahead.”