The New York Islanders split two games in Tampa Bay, giving them a golden opportunity to take control of the series with back-to-back games at the Nassau Coliseum. There’s only one obstacle: the Lightning started to look like their dominant selves again in Game 2.
Check out the ESPN NHL Playoffs Daily to catch up every day of the postseason until the Stanley Cup is handed out in July.
They’re no longer the “New York Saints” — not after Islanders coach Barry Trotz complained about a missed too-many-men call in the Game 2 loss. That game also showed us that this series is going to be chippy. As New York returns home for the Coliseum’s first semifinal game since 1993, Trotz is looking for more overall effort from his team. “I thought we maybe had two lines that were going pretty good,” Trotz said about Game 2. “And two were struggling to get any traction.”
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who was held out for most of the third period after “tweaking something”, should be good to return.
As for Tampa Bay, the Lighting won Game 2 because their top line came alive after a quiet Game 1. Over the last two years, Nikita Kucherov leads all playoff scorers with a whopping 56 points in 38 games. Linemate Brayden Point is right behind him, with 47 points in 36 games.
About last night
The Canadiens’ postseason success has had one common theme: they do really well when protecting a lead. This time, the Canadiens got it. Montreal outplayed Vegas in the first period again, and entered the first intermission with a 2-0 lead (as opposed to the zero goals they mustered while dominating the first 20 minutes of Game 1). It marked just the third time ever that the Golden Knights have trailed by multiple goals during a playoff game in Vegas. Meanwhile, Tyler Toffoli extended his point streak to eight games with another goal.
But the Golden Knights see a theme emerging themselves: Vegas has allowed the first goal in 10 of 15 games this postseason. “For whatever reason, our starts in the playoffs haven’t been good enough,” Vegas captain Mark Stone said. “We’ve gotten burned before and we got burned again tonight.” A pair of Alex Pietrangelo goals made it interesting, but Vegas couldn’t get a third goal past Carey Price, who was solid. The Golden Knights were missing top-line center Chandler Stephenson, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Full recap
Three stars of the night
The Habs’ best chance in this series is if Price steals them some games. The goaltender frustrated Vegas by stopping 29 of 30 shots, including some beauties.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 17, 2021
The defenseman continues to produce, with a pair of goals on Wednesday. Both of the goals came within five seconds of a Vegas offensive zone faceoff win — set plays that the Canadiens really need to figure out how to stop.
The bottom-six forward scored his second goal of the playoffs, and it was a beauty, a total individual effort off a breakaway to make this game unreachable for Vegas.
Stat of the day
The Montreal Canadiens this postseason are:
Mysterious condition of the day
One of Montreal’s best defensemen, Jeff Petry returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing the last two games with a hand injury.
But when he returned to the ice, it was his bloodshot eyes that caught everyone’s attention. Quite frankly, it was alarming.
Mom come pick me up I’m scared pic.twitter.com/r3TxUU3Ep3
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 17, 2021
Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas reported during the game that Petry had a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is broken blood vessels under his cornea. On Instagram, Petry’s wife, Julie, provided a little more context.
From Jeff Petry’s wife on Instagram: pic.twitter.com/T34KMQfB2B
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) June 17, 2021
Defensive partner Joel Edmundson‘s take after the game? “His eyes looked like that for a week now. But it didn’t seem like it affected him tonight.”