Kucherov scores late; Lightning take 2-0 lead over Islanders

Kucherov scores late; Lightning take 2-0 lead over Islanders

Kucherov scores late; Lightning take 2-0 lead over Islanders

EDMONTON — Even though the Tampa Bay Lightning seem to possess some overtime magic in the playoffs, this was not the the time for more hockey.

Losing leading scorer Brayden Point to injury and Alex Killorn to ejection and after going into the game with just 11 forwards, the Lightning played much of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final with nine. Extra minutes would have taken their toll against a New York Islanders team that responded in a big way from a series-opening blowout.

Instead of going into OT, Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds left to break the tie and give Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory Wednesday night and a 2-0 series lead. The relief was visible on the bench as coach Jon Cooper pumped his fist three times, and the Lightning are now two wins away from the Stanley Cup final.

“Any goal is a good goal and a huge goal in the series, especially that one,” said Kucherov, who scored the near-buzzer-beater off a pass from defenceman Ryan McDonagh. “We were short (at forward), and we tried to play disciplined defensively and we knew our chances were going to come. We just had to wait and we got rewarded and definitely it was huge for us. We’ll take it.”

Tampa Bay won thanks to some timely scoring, 27 saves from Andrei Vaslievskiy and two big penalty kills. But the biggest question moving forward is the status of Point, who trails only Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the most points this post-season.

Point was injured going down awkwardly late in the first period, came back for two shifts in the second and then left the game for good.

“We all know the character of that kid and what a competitor and gamer he is,” Cooper said. “So for him not to come back, I know it was tough on him and clearly it was tough on us as well.”

This was a much tougher game to win for Tampa Bay than its 8-2 romp over New York on Monday night.

Two nights after Point scored 1:14 in, Matt Martin did the honours 1:24 in to give the Islanders the lead. A broken play helped defenceman Nick Leddy get behind the net, and he fed Martin for his fifth goal of the playoffs on a rare play in which Vasilevskiy lost sight of the puck.

Six minutes in, Killorn hit New York’s Brock Nelson into the glass from behind and was ejected and given a 5-minute major penalty for boarding. The Lightning killed the entire Islanders power play.

After Nelson returned later, Barclay Goodrow cross-checked him in the back of the neck, a play that went uncalled. Coach Barry Trotz called it “a little bit of a target to the head.”

“Obviously we didn’t love (Killorn’s) hit on him,” Martin said. “The refs made the right call. And, yeah, we didn’t like the cheap shot cross-check to his head, either. Unfortunately it is what it is. They missed that one.”

Norris Trophy finalist defenceman Victor Hedman scored to tie it late in the first, and there were no goals throughout the second into the third. The Islanders got a lengthy power play that included 38 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but Tampa Bay’s penalty kill stepped up again with McDonagh and Cedric Paquette in the box.

“Just a gutsy 5 on 3 there by the guys,” McDonagh said. “You never want to put your team down, especially late in the game. Between Vasy and all the killers, it was definitely the difference in the game.”

NOTES: Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves on 21 shots after getting the nod over Game 1 starter Thomas Greiss. … Andrew Ladd played his first playoff game since 2016 and first game of any kind since March 10, replacing Derick Brassard in the Islanders lineup. … Mitchell Stephens and Carter Verhaeghe are candidates to replace Point moving forward if he can’t play, and they may both play if Tampa Bay goes back to the traditional 12 forwards and six defencemen setup.

UP NEXT

Game 3 is Friday night.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Torrington School music program is one of 95 beneficiaries across the country of grants from MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity. (Black Press file photo).
Torrington music program gets grant to purchase instruments

A Torrington school will be able to replace worn out band instruments… Continue reading

Paul Harris, owner of Tribe restaurant downtown, said a lot of the blame for the latest restrictions that will close outdoor patios on Sunday can be blamed on those not obeying health regulations and the government for failing to enforce the rules.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Restaurant owners frustrated by patio shutdowns

Outdoor patios must stop serving by midnight Sunday to stem rising COVID infections

The City of Red Deer said Wednesday that some outdoor activity rentals will be available starting Monday for households only. (Advocate File Photo)
City of Red Deer outlines activities available as new provincial COVID-19 restrictions set in

There will be limited recreation activities available across the City of Red… Continue reading

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

‘Love, Oran’ is a documentary feature made by Red Deer-raised filmmaker Colin Scheyen. It’s about hidden letters, found in a Woodlea home after 70 years, revealing a family secret. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Hidden letters reveal secrets of Red Deer family in a new documentary film

‘Love, Oran,’ by filmmaker Colin Scheyen is showing at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson, left, directs her teammates, lead Briane Meilleur, right, and second Shannon Birchard, against Estonia at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy, left, talks with midfielder Lassi Lappalainen during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Canadian MLS teams try to make best of relocation

Damian Warner, of Canada bronze, smiles during the medal ceremony for the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Nariman El-Mofty
Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Decathlete Damian Warner says being a dad has brought balance and new perspective

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gestures rounding third base after hitting his third home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Blue Jays shuffling back to Buffalo starting June 1

Most Read