The Tampa Bay Lightning drew one stage nearer to their second straight title, progressing to the Stanley Cup Final with a 1-0 Game 7 triumph over the New York Islanders on Friday night.
They’ll face the Montreal Canadiens, showing up since winning the Cup in 1993, in an arrangement that starts in Tampa on Monday night.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped each of the 18 shots he faced, as the Lightning cinched down protectively on the Islanders in the disposal game. This was the fourth consecutive arrangement wherein Vasilevskiy has contributed a shutout the Lightning’s disposal game.
“I don’t think we can say anything more about him. He’s the best in the world for a reason. He’s the steady rock that allows us to play with pace, play with confidence and play with a lead,” captain Steven Stamkos said.
With the win, the Lightning moved to 14-0 in the end of the season games after a misfortune in the previous two postseasons. They haven’t dropped consecutive season finisher games since their notorious opening-round clear on account of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019.
“We have great leaders in this group. After a loss, we take it personally,” center Yanni Gourde said. “We want to jump right back in there after a loss. Our group has a ton of resiliency, and we showed that tonight.”
The Lightning scored the game’s only goal with an in need of help count at 1:49 of the subsequent period. With forward Barclay Goodrow in the punishment box for cross-checking, Tampa Bay focus Anthony Cirelli held up out three Islanders shielding him against the sheets to discover a streaking Gourde coming from the seat. Gourde snapped a speedy shot that beat New York goalie Semyon Varlamov for his fifth objective of the postseason and a 1-0 Lightning lead.
“It’s disappointing because that was an opportunity for us to do something against them. They made a play and we weren’t paying enough attention, and it ends up in the back of the net,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of his team’s power play, which was the only one for either team in Game 7.
The Lightning dominated play all through the game, stimulated from the beginning from playing at home and getting a central participant back in their setup in Nikita Kucherov, who left Game 6 after one shift subsequent to enduring an undisclosed injury following a cross-check from Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.
Kucherov, who drives the end of the season games with 27 focuses in 18 games, said, “There was no question if I was going to play or not” in Game 7.
However, Lightning mentor Jon Cooper said he wasn’t so certain.
“I didn’t feel the same way. I’m glad he did, and that’s the only vote that counts. It was dicey,” said Cooper, who noted that Kucherov was questionable for Game 7 earlier in the day. “That was a big push for our room. I don’t know if the players thought he was playing.”
The Lightning dominated the first period in hostile zone time, driving the Islanders 22-10 in shot endeavors, yet couldn’t get through in a scoreless first edge because of 15 recoveries from Varlamov.
The Islanders had a 20-16 shot endeavor advantage in the second period. The Lightning wound up enjoying a 31-18 benefit in shots on objective, as the Islanders couldn’t discover the equalizer.
This was the Lightning’s first Game 7 since losing to the Washington Capitals – trained by Trotz – in the Eastern Conference finals in 2018. This is their third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final under Cooper, losing to Chicago in 2015 preceding winning in the Edmonton bubble over the Dallas Stars the previous summer.
For the Islanders, it was the subsequent straight season the Lightning crushed them in the third round of the end of the season games.
“Being down one objective in Game 7 of the gathering last? You’ll take that. Credit them for securing us down in the third time frame,” Islanders focus Mathew Barzal said. “It’s anything but our time. Ideally we’ll be back the following year.”
Barzal was passionate in his postgame news meeting when talking about the misfortune.
“It sucks getting back to this point and falling short again,” he said, getting choked up when discussing how hard it was to see the team’s veteran players in the locker room following the defeat. “I have a few more years, but you want to win for those guys.”
The loss implies that New York’s Game 6 extra time win was the last Islanders game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The group moves to another field at Belmont Park next season.
“This group is special. To me, it’s undeniable. This group believed we could do this,” Trotz said. “It’s just a lot of pain. They gave it their all.”