Andrei Vasilevskiy on Tuesday stopped 24 shots and Nikita Kucherov had three assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning rediscovered their scoring touch to beat the New York Islanders 4-2 in Game 2 of their NHL semi-final series.
Victor Hedman tallied a goal and an assist, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat scored early goals as the defending Stanley Cup champions leveled the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
“We’ve got good leadership in our room, and they keep our team from getting too high or too low,” Point said. “I don’t know, it’s tough to put a finger on it really. It’s gone good so far, but we can’t be happy with just this one. It’s going to be a hard, long series. We’ve got to look at the next one.”
The Lightning bounced back from a tight 2-1 loss in Game 1, the first time they have trailed in a Stanley Cup playoff series this spring.
“We knew they were going to come with a good response after we got the first game,” Brock Nelson said. “I thought we did a pretty good job coming out of the gates 1-1, but it’s hockey. Bounces, breaks, whatever it may be, they were able to get a couple and get the lead, and we weren’t able to get it back.”
Mathew Barzal also scored for the Islanders, while Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots.
It is a familiar scenario for the Lightning.
They lost the series opener twice, including in the Stanley Cup final, en route to winning the championship last season over the Dallas Stars.
So the Lightning’s top guns were primed for a standout performance in front of a limited crowd of 14,700 on Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, after the Islanders shut them down in Game 1.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring halfway through the first period of Game 2 when Point got in close and fired a shot under the left arm of Varlamov to stretch his scoring streak to five games.
Nelson stuffed home a rebound to tie it 1-1, but Palat restored the one-goal lead for Tampa by getting to the open space in the slot and burying a shot past Varlamov 13 minutes, 15 seconds into the second period.
Varlamov was forced to leave the game in the first period after Point crashed into him on a hard drive to the net.
Varlamov returned for the start of the second period, ending a brief spell in goal for backup Ilya Sorokin.
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