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Drouin's first NHL playoff goal is Game 2 winner

Forward also has assist; Lightning defeat Islanders to tie series

by Corey Long / Correspondent

Drouin slips one by Greiss

NYI@TBL, Gm2: Drouin slips one five-hole by Greiss

R2, Gm2: Jonathan Drouin sends a backhander through the five-hole of Thomas Greiss to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead in the 1st

  • 00:55 •

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin waited longer than expected to score his first goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but it was well worth the wait.

Drouin's goal at 11:55 of the first period proved to be the game-winner when the Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 4-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1; Game 3 is at Barclays Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, became the youngest Lightning player to score a game-winning goal in the playoffs at 21 years and 34 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He has six assists in the playoffs, tied with Tyler Johnson for most on the Lightning.

"He's just going to get better and better," Johnson said. "He's just so young and talented. He's exciting to watch every time he touches the puck."

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm2: Hedman banks puck off de Haan and in

Drouin's offense has never been questioned, but his overall game has been a pleasant surprise for the Lightning this postseason. He has shown the ability to play physical when necessary and is doing his part defensively by blocking shots and using his speed to disrupt plays.

"He's been around pro hockey now for a couple of years and he's a smart player," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He understands the game, and you have to be involved in it a little bit to know what you can do and what you can't do."

While Drouin continues to perform in the playoffs, he continues to be further removed from his tumultuous season that included a demotion to Syracuse of the American Hockey League and a six-week suspension after he demanded a trade and refused to continue playing for Syracuse. 

Drouin was reinstated on March 20 and general manager Steve Yzerman said the Lightning and Drouin were ready to move forward. Now, he's an integral part of the Lightning's postseason run and looks to be a major part of their future.

"I owe a lot to my [teammates] for making me comfortable since I've been back," Drouin said. "Every game it's getting better and better. This was a big game for us. Our backs were against the wall a little bit and it was definitely a big goal."

Cooper said Drouin's game as a whole makes him a difficult matchup for any opponent because he can do so many things with the puck.

"We use the word slippery; he is slippery," Cooper said. "It's like you go fishing and you grab a fish with your bare hand. That's what he's like out there. He's hard to defend. When he's cycling the puck and moving down there he's so shifty, crafty and skilled that you don't know what he's going to do."

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