NHL Friday NBC Sports Network Preview: New York Islanders at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The New York Islanders forced a Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff semifinals series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 3-2 victory in overtime on Wednesday.
Brayden Point opened the scoring for Tampa Bay with a goal four minutes into the first period. Anthony Cirelli gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead at the 12:36 minute mark of the second period. Jordan Eberle got New York on the board with his goal at 14:22 of the second period. Scott Mayfield scored the game-tying goal at 11:16 of the third period. Anthony Beauvillier scored the game-winner 68 seconds into overtime.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 22 shots in the victory for the Islanders. Varlamov has a 7-6 record in the postseason with a 2.68 goals-against-average with a .919 save percentage. He has a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .90 save percentage in this series.
Mathew Barzal leads New York with 14 points coming from six goals and eight assists in the playoffs. Jean-Gabriel Pageau tops the team with ten assists. Pageau has 13 points in the postseason as do Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey. Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri share the team lead with seven goals.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in the losing effort for Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The 26-year-old has an 11-6 record in the playoffs, with a 2.11 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage. He has a 1.85 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage in this series.
Nikita Kucherov leads the Lightning with 27 points in the postseason from five goals and 22 assists. Point’s 14 goals in the playoffs are the most on the team. He has 20 points in the postseason and attempts to tie Reggie Leach’s NHL record tonight with a tenth straight playoff game with at least one point. Steven Stamkos has added seven goals and ten assists.
Kucherov is questionable for Game 7 after leaving Game 6 with an undisclosed injury at the 2:22 mark of the first period. The left wing missed the entire regular season with a hip injury. Top-four defenseman Erik Cernak is questionable with an upper-body injury.
The Islanders do not have any short-term injury issues for tonight’s game.
Kucherov has anchored a power-play unit that has scored 20 goals in the playoffs from 53 chances for a 37.7% success rate. Tampa Bay has scored five times with a man-advantage in this series in 17 opportunities for a 29.4% rate. The Islanders were the least penalized team in the regular season. Their average of 7:00 penalty minutes per game and 3:13 shorthanded minutes per game were the best marks in the league during the regular season. New York has limited the Lighting to no more than two power plays in four of the six games in this series. They have won three of those four games. Tampa Bay averaged 3.3 power plays per game in their first two playoff series against Florida and Carolina.
The Islanders’ head coach Barry Trotz looks to improve his record to 5-2 in seven-game series in his third year. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper aspires to lead his group to a second straight Stanley Cup title in his seventh year. The winner hosts Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
BetAnySports lists Tampa Bay as a -152 money line favorite with the total set at 5.
Computer prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning 2 New York Islanders 1