After losing Game One at home on Wednesday, the Lightning needed a strong response in Game Two. They got that strong response in an impressive 4-1 triumph.
Two of the problems areas of Game One didn’t resurface. Ben Bishop, as many expected, had a solid bounce-back performance after a tough outing in Game One. He made 19 saves on 20 shots.
And the team in front of Bishop played much better defensively. Not only was the Islanders’ shot total low, so was their scoring chance total. Thanks to a sound, defensive performance, the Lightning didn’t have many breakdowns. They committed some key errors in Game One that led to Islander goals. But in Game Two, even when they were hemmed back in their own zone, they did well to hold their coverage and deny New York open looks.
Despite the fact that they were outshot, 12-5, in the first period, the Lightning had a strong opening frame. In the first 12 minutes, they killed two penalties and netted two goals. As they did in the early stages of Game One, they used their speed effectively to put the Islanders back on their heels. On Tyler Johnson’s opening goal, the Lightning caught a break when Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Leddy collided at the Lightning blue line. Before the Islanders could recover and get back defensively, Victor Hedman hurried the puck to Ondrej Palat, who skated into the offensive zone on a two-on-one with Johnson. Johnson finished his in-alone chance at 6:03. Then, with just over eight minutes left in the frame, Valtteri Filppula stickhandled into the offensive zone and slid a pass to Jonathan Drouin. Drouin slipped a backhander through the pads of Thomas Greiss to extend the Lightning lead.
A third Lightning penalty in the first, however, led to Nikolay Kulemin’s deflection goal at 15:15. That tally sparked the Islanders, who applied heavy pressure in the final two minutes of the period. They kept the puck in the Lightning’s zone for that entire timeframe, but didn’t score.
Still, the Islanders had grabbed momentum and they kept it in the early stages of the second. The Lightning had two quiet power play chances in the opening 7:40 of the second and weren’t generating any sustained offensive zone pressure. Through the first eight and a half minutes of the period, the Lightning had recorded only one shot on goal. But they began turning things around when their second shot almost led to a rebound goal for Alex Killorn. Beginning with those two shots, the Lightning outshot the Islanders for the rest of the period, 13-2. They reestablished a two-goal lead during another power play when Hedman’s point shot deflected into the net off Calvin de Haan.
Up 3-1 entering the third, the Lightning put on a puck possession clinic in the final period. Most of the frame was spent in the Islanders defensive zone. The Lightning’s forechecking and puck retrieval was strong, so when the Islanders finally got possession or cleared their zone, all they could do was change players. Greiss made a handful of terrific stops to keep the deficit at 3-1, but the Islanders couldn’t get any closer. The Lightning finally iced the win with a Johnson empty-netter.
Outside of a 15-minute stretch between the end of the first and start of the second, the Lightning thoroughly controlled play. In Game One, the Lightning outshot the Islanders, 28-10 in the final two periods. Some of that disparity had to do with the fact that the Islanders were protecting a multi-goal lead and content to sit back. That wasn’t the case in Game Two, however. The Lightning were the ones in the lead. Yet once again, the Lightning enjoyed a big shot advantage after the first period. In the final 40 minutes, they outshot the Isles, 26-8. And in the last 31 minutes, their shot advantage was 25-5. It illustrates just how well the Lightning closed out this game.
So the Lightning won a game they really needed. But the Islanders still earned a split in the first two games and have taken away home ice advantage. Now the series shifts to the Barclays Center, where the Islanders won 25 games during the regular season and took two of three from the Florida Panthers in Round One.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Hedman’s PPG, which gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Tyler Johnson – Lightning. Two goals and assist.
2.Victor Hedman – Lightning. Goal and assist. Team-high 27:35 TOI.
3.Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Assist.