The Islanders scored an early goal to go along with a five-minute power play in the first period and then had a five on three power play in the third.
But they couldn’t capitalize on their chances and it cost them.
Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds left in the third period beating Semyon Varlamov to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 win over the Islanders and now Tampa Bay has a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Islanders forward Matt Martin. “But we battled hard and I knew we would. We believe that we can win the series.”
Islanders/Lightning Eastern Conference Final Schedule:
Game 1: Monday September 7th…Lightning 8 Islanders 2 (Tampa Bay leads 1-0)
Game 2: Wednesday September 9th…Lightning 2 Islanders 1 (Tampa Bay leads 2-0)
Game 3: Friday September 11th…Lightning vs Islanders…8pm USA
Game 4: Sunday September 13th…Lightning vs Islanders…3pm NBC
Game 5: Tuesday September 15th…Islanders vs Lightning…8pm NBCSN (If Necessary)
Game 6: Thursday September 17th…Lightning vs Islanders…8pm NBCSN (If Necessary)
Game 7: Saturday September 19th…Islanders vs Lightning…730pm NBC (If Necessary)
Martin’s 5th goal of the playoffs at 1;24 of the first period gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead, but the Lightning tied it up late in the opening period. After it was ruled that Devon Toews didn’t gain the red line before dumping the puck in the Lightning zone an icing was called even though it looked on television replays that a Tampa Bay player had tipped the puck. Tampa Bay won the face-off and Victor Hedman drilled a shot past Varlamov with 1:35 left in the third period to even the contest at the first intermission.
Varlamov got the nod over Thomas Greiss to get the start and he made 19 saves. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was the number one start of the game making 27 saves.
The Islanders certainly had their chances.
In the first period, Lightning forward Alex Kilorn hit Brock Nelson from behind and was given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct but the Islanders didn’t score. In the third period, the Islanders had a 38 second man advantage in the third period and didn’t do anything with that. Overall, the Islanders were 0-4 on the power play.
After a blowout loss in game one, the Islanders played well enough to win, but couldn’t take advantage of some opportunities and now they have to go back to the drawing board.
“We feel like we played a really solid game,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey. “We just gotta stick with it. It’s no time to get down. There’s a lot of teams out there that would like to be in our spot right now. You have to turn the page like we’ve done all playoffs.”
With this heartbreaking and frustrating loss, the Islanders have dug themselves a bit of a hole as they head into game three on Friday night (8pm USA Network).
“We’ve lost some overtime games…lost in different ways that have punched us in the stomach a few times,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “This one is a little bit of a shot to the gut. Every time we’ve done that, we’ve got up. We’ll be ready for the next game. This group has a lot of character and a lot of fight.”
They’ll need a lot of fight. The Islanders now have to win four out of five games to make it to the Stanley Cup Final.