The New York Islanders rolled into Tampa for the first time since their seven game Semi-Final series a season ago. Monday marked the 12th game of the Islanders 13 game road-trip to open the season ahead of their new stadium opening Saturday night.
After meeting two straight years in the playoffs, the Lightning and Islanders have built a strong distaste for one another. The physical play continued into this year’s edition of the matchup as the Lightning would go on to win 4-1 in one of the more complete performances of the season.
1. Quick Response
The Islanders opened the scoring early in the first period following a Lightning turnover at their offensive blue-line. The Islanders biggest game-breaker, Matt Barzal, found himself in all alone to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Isles the early lead. 37 seconds later, Mathieu Joseph picked the top corner to answer right back and level the score. The tally was Joseph’s second goal of the season.
2. Physical Play
These teams don’t like each other. A new face in this rivalry, Zdeno Chara, got in on the action from the opening faceoff. He dropped the gloves with Pat Maroon as the two were finally able to settle things after the two fought on multiple occasions during Chara’s time in Boston. Chara would find himself in the middle of it again in the third period as rookie Boris Katchouk stood up to the 6’9 Chara after being the recipient of a high cross-check. Katchouk poked the bear and even took down the big man. You have to respect the kid for not taking it from anybody, even the towering Chara.
The second period saw the biggest instance of the extra curriculars. Brock Nelson saw a chance to give Alex Killorn a run after being the recipient of a major boarding penalty from Killorn in the 2020 playoffs. Anthony Cirelli responded to the questionable hit from Nelson and handed Nelson multiple rights. For those who don’t remember, here’s that hit from 2020:
3. Cleaning it Up
Two of the Lightning’s four goals came from picking up the loose change after net front scrambles. Cirelli converted in the last minute of the first period on a rebound for what would go on to be the game winning goal. Brayden Point would add insurance late in the third in a similar fashion to bolster the Lightning lead. A scoring chance off the rush would lead to a mad scramble in front of the Islanders net. Point would eventually slam home the puck to beat a flailing Semyon Varlamov in the Islander crease.
4. Special Teams
A hinderance at times this season, the Lightning came out on top of the special teams battle Monday night. They were able to kill off all three Islander powerplays. While it did not count as a powerplay goal, Cirelli’s goal in the first period came just after a Lightning powerplay expired as the Lightning were able to generate some momentum with the man advantage. Tampa Bay would cash in for real on a Steven Stamkos one-timer in the third to put the game out of reach at 4-1.
5. Point Streak Reaches Eight
It may not feel as though the Lightning are riding some super-hot streak, but they have found a way to earn results while putting up some great performances. Monday marked the final game of a challenging three game homestand that saw the Lightning earn five of the possible six points. The Lightning can feel good about where they are right now, especially with four more games at home after just one game away, Thursday night in Philadelphia.