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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders Pick & Prediction SEP 17TH 2020

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As fast as Semyon Varlamov darted up the ice late Tuesday night, all that goalie equipment made it impossible for the New York Islanders netminder to join the celebration as quickly as he wanted.

So at center ice, Varlamov channeled his inner Pete Rose -- or maybe his inner teenager atop a snowy hill -- by diving, extending his arms and sliding into the gaggle of teammates mobbing one another along the boards.

The celebratory moment of the NHL's postseason means the Islanders still have a chance to complete the comeback of the postseason.

Down 3-2, the Islanders will look to push the Eastern Conference finals to the limit Thursday night when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 in Edmonton.

The Islanders staved off elimination in dramatic fashion in Game 5, when Jordan Eberle scored with 7:30 left in the second overtime to lift New York to a 2-1 win.

"I was just so excited for us," a grinning Varlamov said. "Our season was on the line today (in) this game. When we scored that goal, it was just a lot of emotions going through in that moment. I was just so happy for the guys and so happy for us. We extended the series and we have a chance to continue to play."

Eberle's tie-breaking goal capped a game that embodied the grind of playoff hockey and the task of closing out a series. The two teams combined for 61 shots, including just 20 in the 32-plus minutes of overtime, and went 68:30 without a goal before Eberle's game-winner.

The Islanders dodged disaster at least twice in the extra sessions, first by killing off Anthony Beauvillier's four-minute penalty that began late in regulation and then during a minute-plus span deep in their own zone in the first overtime after Scott Mayfield's stick broke. New York blocked three shots during the subsequent flurry by the Lightning -- including one by Anders Lee, who handed his stick to Mayfield.

"The boys battled hard tonight," Eberle said. "We had some moments in the D zone, especially in overtime where we had a broken stick, collapsed and just held on. To score that, continue to move on and give ourselves another chance in a couple days is huge."

The Lightning, who lost in overtime for the first time in five tries in the postseason, nearly punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Dallas Stars twice more. Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock smothered a puck near the crease in the waning seconds of the first overtime and Nikita Kucherov fired wide of the open corner of the net fewer than four minutes into the second overtime.

"Winning and losing, it's razor thin in this league," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday night. "I just watched that team over there lose three (overtime games) in a row to Philly (in the conference semifinals). At some point, they're probably bound to win one and we're probably bound to lose one."

The Lightning may once again be without center Brayden Point, who missed his second game of the series with an undisclosed injury. Cooper said Wednesday he didn't know if Point, who was hurt in Game 2 and returned for Game 4, would be available Thursday.

--Field Level Media

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Tampa Bay Lightning

New York Islanders

alignments not yet available

Tampa Bay Lightning

New York Islanders

  • Match Start
  • Period 1
  • MIN 4
    • GOAL
    • scorer: Devon Toews
    • assist: Anders Lee
    • assist: Mathew Barzal
  • MIN 6
    • GOAL
    • scorer: Victor Hedman
    • assist: Erik Cernak
    • assist: Nikita Kucherov
  • Period 2
  • MIN 4
    • penalty
    • penalty: Devon Toews
  • MIN 7
    • penalty
    • penalty: Cal Clutterbuck
  • MIN 15
    • penalty
    • penalty: Tyler Johnson
  • Period 3
  • MIN 13
    • penalty
    • penalty: Devon Toews
  • MIN 19
    • penalty
    • penalty: Andy Greene
  • Period 4
  • MIN 8
    • penalty
  • MIN 13
    • GOAL
    • scorer: Anthony Cirelli
    • assist: Barclay Goodrow
    • assist: Alex Killorn
  • Match End

GAMES

Last 10

W 78% L 22%
7 2
  • @Columbus L 2 - 5
  • @Columbus W 3 - 2
  • Dallas D 0 - 0
  • Chicago W 2 - 5
  • Chicago W 1 - 5
  • @Dallas W 2 - 0
  • Dallas L 3 - 2
  • @Dallas W 5 - 4
  • @Dallas W 5 - 2
  • Dallas W 2 - 3
W 50% L 50%
5 5
  • @Washington L 2 - 3
  • @New Jersey L 0 - 2
  • New Jersey W 1 - 4
  • Boston W 0 - 1
  • @NY Rangers L 0 - 5
  • @NY Rangers W 4 - 0
  • Tampa Bay L 2 - 1
  • @Tampa Bay W 2 - 1
  • Tampa Bay L 4 - 1
  • Tampa Bay W 3 - 5

Next Games

  • @Carolina(01-05-20) W 3 - 1
  • Nashville(10-26-19) L 3 - 2
  • Nashville(10-26-19) L 3 - 2
  • Detroit(12-29-19) W 1 - 2
  • @Washington(01-26-21) L 2 - 3
  • @Philadelphia(09-05-20) W 4 - 0
  • @Philadelphia(09-05-20) W 4 - 0
  • Buffalo(12-14-19) W 2 - 3

Last Meetings

  • Lightning @ Islanders 2-1
  • Islanders @ Lightning 2-1
  • Lightning @ Islanders 4-1
  • Lightning @ Islanders 3-5
  • Islanders @ Lightning 1-2
  • Islanders @ Lightning 2-8
  • Islanders @ Lightning 1-3
  • Islanders @ Lightning 5-1
  • Lightning @ Islanders 2-5
  • Lightning @ Islanders 1-0

Eastern Conference

AtlanticWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Toronto Maple Leafs62012 3-0-13-0-12622L16-0-2
Montreal Canadiens4019 0-0-04-0-02918L14-0-0
Boston Bruins4119 3-0-01-0-11812L24-0-1
Florida Panthers3006 2-0-01-0-0149W33-0-0
Tampa Bay Lightning3106 2-0-01-0-11510L13-0-1
Buffalo Sabres3306 1-0-22-0-12121L23-0-3
Detroit Red Wings2415 2-0-20-0-21322L32-0-4
Ottawa Senators1413 1-0-20-0-21527L51-0-4

Western Conference

CentralWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Winnipeg Jets52010 3-0-12-0-12821L15-0-2
St. Louis Blues4208 2-0-12-0-12227L14-0-2
Minnesota Wild4308 1-0-23-0-11917L24-0-3
Colorado Avalanche4308 2-0-12-0-22518L14-0-3
Dallas Stars3006 3-0-00-0-0123W33-0-0
Nashville Predators3306 3-0-10-0-21519L33-0-3
Chicago Blackhawks2326 2-0-00-0-32126L12-0-3

Eastern Conference

MetropolitanWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Washington Capitals4019 2-0-02-0-02523L14-0-0
Philadelphia Flyers4208 3-0-11-0-12525L24-0-2
Pittsburgh Penguins4219 4-0-00-0-22326L14-0-2
New Jersey Devils3206 2-0-11-0-11416L13-0-2
New York Islanders3306 2-0-01-0-31111L23-0-3
Carolina Hurricanes2104 0-0-02-0-196L12-0-1
Columbus Blue Jackets2226 1-0-01-0-21822L12-0-2
New York Rangers1402 1-0-20-0-21518L41-0-4

Western Conference

PacificWL OTPTSHOMEAWAYGFGAST L10
Vegas Golden Knights51010 4-0-01-0-12317L15-0-1
Los Angeles Kings3228 1-0-12-0-12221L13-0-2
Anaheim Ducks3228 2-0-11-0-11214L23-0-2
San Jose Sharks3406 0-0-03-0-42228L13-0-4
Vancouver Canucks3506 2-0-21-0-32734L23-0-5
Edmonton Oilers3506 1-0-32-0-22329L13-0-5
Calgary Flames2215 2-0-20-0-01613L22-0-2
Arizona Coyotes2404 2-0-20-0-21720L22-0-4

Last Injuries

New York Islanders

  • Anthony Beauvillier

    Lower Body
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Beauvillier is on the injured reserve list due to a lower-body injury, and it is unknown when he will return to to the fold.

  • Josh Bailey

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Bailey has been placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list, and there is no timetable for return.

  • Johnny Boychuk

    Eye
    out for season | I-R

    Boychuk has been placed on the long-term injured reserve list with optic nerve damage to his eye, and he will miss the 2020-2021 season.

  • Semyon Varlamov

    Undisclosed
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Varlamov missed the last game after taking a puck to the neck, and it is unknown if he will face the Bruins on Monday.

  • Sebastian Aho

    Undisclosed
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Aho has been assigned to the injured reserve list due to an injury to an unlisted injury, and it is unknown how long he will be debilitated.

  • Michael Dal Colle

    Undisclosed
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Dal Colle has been designated for the injured reserve list with an unspecified injury, and there is no timetable for recovery.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Erik Cernak

    Undisclosed
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Cernak exited the previous game with an unknown injury, and it has yet to be established if he will lace up against the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

  • Mitchell Stephens

    Undisclosed
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Stephens was lifted from the last contest due to an unspecified injury, and it is undetermined if he will be available for Tuesday's matchup against the Hurricanes.

  • Blake Coleman

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Coleman is on the injured reserve list while going through the COVID-19 protocol, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.

  • Curtis McElhinney

    Personal
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    McElhinney is going through the league's COVID-19 protocols, and will be out for an unknown length of time.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders

Tampa Bay's Anthony Cirelli scored 13:18 into overtime in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night, and the Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders in Edmonton.

Cirelli took a feed from Barclay Goodrow from behind the net and fired from point-blank range. The puck bounced off the post, skittered along the goal line and then ticked off goalie Semyon Varlamov's skate and into the back of the net to end the best-of-seven series.

Cirelli raised his arms in celebration moments before the red light went on and the officials acknowledged it was a goal.

"The emotions (are) just so high," Cirelli said. "We worked all year. Our goal is to be playing for the Stanley Cup and we're here now. I think it's every kid's dream to be in this situation."

Victor Hedman scored in the first period and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 26 saves for the Lightning, who will face the Dallas Stars for the Stanley Cup. Game 1 of the best-of-seven championship series is scheduled for Saturday.

The Finals berth is the third for the Lightning, who won it all by beating the Calgary Flames in 2004 and fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015.

Devon Toews scored in the first period and Varlamov made 46 saves for the Islanders, who were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference when the pandemic ended the regular season before reaching the conference finals for the first time in 27 years.

"Just a special group in our room," Islanders captain Anders Lee said. "And till that very last minute, just every single one of us believed in each other and what we were doing and the road we were on. Obviously, we came up short, but there's just a huge sense of pride right now in every single one of those guys in our room and everyone involved."

After combining for just two regulation goals in Game 5, the teams traded goals in a span of 2:13 early in the first period of Game 6.

The Islanders took a short-lived lead on an impressive individual effort by Toews, who streaked to the left side of the crease as he received a pass from Lee. Toews deked as if he planned to shoot, and with Vasilevskiy committed, instead skated around the net and tucked home a shot into the right corner of the net that ticked off the Vasilevskiy's skate at the 4:15 mark.

The Lightning took advantage of a rare defensive breakdown by the Islanders to tie the game. Varlamov deflected a shot by Erik Cernak, but no New York player pounced on the rebound. Hedman swooped in between defensemen Scott Mayfield and Nick Leddy and fired a shot past the outstretched stick of Mayfield and over Varlamov's stick arm.

The Lightning outshot the Islanders 17-6 in the first period and had the first seven shots of the second but could not break the tie despite getting four unanswered shots during back-to-back power plays in the first 10 minutes.

New York nearly took the lead just before the horn of the second period, but Matt Martin couldn't get his stick fully on a point-blank opportunity in the crease and Vasilevskiy smothered the puck with 3.1 seconds left.

The teams traded prime scoring chances in the final minutes of regulation. A pass from New York's Jordan Eberle sailed wide of Mathew Barzal, who was streaking toward the crease, with about 3:30 left. Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat almost scored with 1:15 left, when his shot from the doorstep was smothered by Varlamov, who was looking behind him when the puck landed beneath him.

In the overtime, Vasilevskiy turned back a short-handed breakaway by Brock Nelson, and a shot by Palat sailed behind Varlamov and out of the crease.

Referencing the Lightning's numerous tight games in the postseason, including overtime contests in Games 5 and 6 against the Islanders, Tampa Bay winger Pat Maroon said, "My fingernails are gone."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of his emotions when the winning goal was scored, "It is so hard to explain, because regardless of if there's fans in the building or not, the exuberance and relief are -- it's unparalleled how you feel inside.

"When you look back at this -- and it's not over -- but we've been (in a) hotel for 54 straight days. ... It might be one of the hardest Cups ever to win. And there are two of us left standing. They're going through the exact same thing we are."

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said, "This is one of the most resilient teams I've coached, and I've coached for a long time. Real proud of what we've done and the strides we've made. But we're obviously very disappointed as a group, because this group felt two things -- it could represent the East and the second thing is hopefully play for the Stanley Cup.

"But we just fell a little bit short."

--Field Level Media