NHL Thursday USA Network Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at the New York Islanders.
Tampa Bay evened their semifinal series with New York with a 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday.
Brayden Point opened the scoring for the Lightning with a goal at the 8:58 minute mark of the first period. Brock Nelson leveled the score with a power-play goal 5 1/2 minutes later in the period. Ondrej Palat gave Tampa Bay the lead again at 13:15 of the second period. Jan Rutta gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead with his goal at 2:16 of the third period. Victor Hedman extended the lead to 4-1 with a power-play goal at 9:17. Matt Barzal scored a final time for the Islanders at 16:44, but they could not draw the game any closer.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced on Tuesday. The Tampa Bay goaltender has a 9-4 record in this postseason with a 2.21 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage.
The Lightning top-line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat generated five points in Game 2, with Kucherov assisting on three goals. He leads the team with17 assists and 22 points in the playoffs. Point has scored 10 goals. Steven Stamkos has another five goals and nine assists centering the second-line.
The Lighting had five power-play opportunities on Tuesday after getting only two chances with the man-advantage in Game 1. Tampa Bay scores only the one power-play goal from Hedman. With two power-play goals in seven opportunities in this series, the Lightning have scored 17 power plays goals in the playoffs from 43 chances for a 39.5% success rate. They averaged 3.3 power plays per game in their first two playoff series.
New York goaltender Semyon Varlamov left Game 1 at 13:05 in the first period after a collision with Point. Ilya Sorokin came into the game trailing 1-0 and stopped all six shots he faced. Varlamov returned to the ice to begin the second period to play the rest of the game. He made 23 saves on the 27 shots he faced. Varlamov has a 5-4 record this postseason with a 2.64 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. In his last seven starts since taking over in Game 2 against Boston last round, Varlamov has stopped 222 of the 239 shots he has faced for a .929 save percentage. Sorokin has a 4-1 record in the playoffs with a 2.28 goals-against-average and a .936 save percentage.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau leads the Islanders with ten assists and 13 points in the playoffs. Josh Bailey is second on the team with 12 points coming from five goals and seven assists. Kyle Palmieri leads with seven goals.
Pageau is day-to-day with an injury that kept him out for the last 13 minutes of Game 2.
New York returns home to Nassau Coliseum, where they 21-4-3 during the regular season. The Islanders are 4-2 at home in the playoffs.
BetAnySports lists Tampa Bay as a -132 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.
Computer prediction: New York Islanders 4 Tampa Bay Lightning 3