Lightning Strikes as Bolts dominate Isles 4-1 in Game 2


Jonathan Drouin.jpg

Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin celebrates his goal in the first period of a 4-1 win over the Islanders in Game 2 tying the second round series. AP Photo by Chris O’Meara/Getty Images

It’s all even after two games. As expected, the Lightning responded to adversity by dominating to win Game 2 over the Islanders 4-1 at Amalie Arena. The best-of-seven second round series will shift to Brooklyn for the next two games. Sadly, there are three days between each game which makes no sense at all. Game 3 is not till Tuesday and Game 4 is Friday. Great scheduling NBC.

Maybe the time off will do the Isles some good. After holding off a strong Bolts’ push to take Game One 5-3, they were brutal in the first game of the day on NBC. Maybe they didn’t set their alarm clocks for 3 PM EST. Despite some undisciplined penalties from a more desperate Lightning, the Islanders were unable to take advantage.

Instead, it was the Bolts who struck first with 2015 playoff standout Tyler Johnson lighting the lamp at 6:03 on a nice set up from Ondrej Palat. Victor Hedman started the play adding a secondary helper. After they killed off a second Islanders power play with Ryan Callahan off for holding, Tampa increased their lead to 2-0 thanks to Jonathan Drouin, who was able to beat Thomas Greiss with a soft backhand in tight at 11:55.

Off a turnover, Valtteri Filppula led Drouin who cut in and scored his first career postseason goal at 11:55. Despite sitting out most of the season due to his controversial agent Allen Walsh, Drouin has performed well in the postseason notching a goal and six helpers. He would later assist on a big Hedman power play goal midway thru the contest that helped Tampa pull away. With the former 2013 third overall pick performing well, would you trade him this summer if you were the Lightning? Seriously.

The rest of the period was controlled by the Islanders. While Tampa remained stuck on five shots for seemingly ever, it was the Isles who dictated play with their physicality and tenacity getting them back in it. Once again, the catalyst was the fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. They have been much better in the first two games than at any point in the team’s first round win over Florida.

Tampa’s lack of discipline allowed the Isles to get back in it. Brian Boyle went off for delay of game with 6:28 left. Despite not being to get much accomplished for most of it, it was the Isles’ second unit that gave them a power play goal when Thomas Hickey was able to get a nice shot pass through to Nikolay Kulemin, who deflected it past Bishop at 15:15. Alan Quine helped set it up recording a point for a fourth consecutive game. For the playoffs, he has a goal and four helpers. Not bad production for a afterthought who only played two regular season games.

Though the Isles out-shot the Bolts 12-5, they were unable to draw closer. A much sharper Bishop bounced back making 11 of his 19 saves in the first. He didn’t have to do much the final two periods, only needing to stop eight more shots the rest of the way. That spoke volumes.

A much sharper Lightning began dictating the terms with their faster skating and puck possession game. Particularly the cohesive Triplets. On one extended shift, Johnson, Palat and Kucherov spent nearly two minutes in the Isles’ end creating dangerous chances while tiring out the Isles’ D. It was that kind of play that led to a much more lopsided second in favor of the hosts, who out-shot a listless Isles 14-5.¬†Greiss was able to do a good job keeping his team in it.

However, a needless goalie interference minor from an overly aggressive Clutterbuck led to a Hedman power play goal that restored a two-goal lead for the Lightning with 8:01 left in the period. After Drouin passed for Johnson, the centerman fed an open Hedman for a point shot that was going way wide until it took a favorable carom off Islander defenseman Calvin de Haan- deflecting past a stunned Greiss. Brian Boyle did a good job in front screening. At one point, they changed the goal to Boyle’s. But changed it back to Hedman, who was the game’s number one star with his first of the postseason and a helper.

With a two-goal lead, it was the Lightning who continued to dominate play in the third, out-shooting the Islanders 12-3. They were the superior team five-on-five. Most of the Lightning were on the plus-side of the ledger in shot attempts for via waronice.com. Only three Islanders were plus and two were even. Top pair Travis Hamonic and Nick Leddy had a rough afternoon going a combined minus-20 in shot differential. Not coincidentally, they were a minus-three.

Desperate to get back in the game, Islanders coach Jack Capuano lifted Greiss early with four minutes left in regulation. Eventually, Johnson fired a shot from 175-feet into a vacated net for his second of the contest with 2:18 remaining.

With Game Two over, a frustrated Isles decided to send a message. A Martin charge with under two minutes left started it. With less than 20 seconds to go, a scrum ensued with Islander and Lightning players pairing off. By that point, Clutterbuck had taken Jonathan Marchessault with him. Alex Killorn went at it with Hickey, who slashed him. It might’ve been in response to a Killorn elbow late in the second on John Tavares.

The nastiness is good. You want there to be some animosity between these two teams in such a big series. At least there were some fireworks. What does it mean for the next game? Too bad they won’t play until Tuesday. The ridiculousness of the schedule makers.

BONY 3 Stars:

3rd Star-Jonathan Drouin, Bolts (1st of postseason, assist, 4 SOG, 7 attempts, 2 PIM, +1 in 17 shifts-14:52)

2nd Star-Tyler Johnson, Bolts (2 goals-3, 4, assist, 7 shot attempts, +2 in 22 shifts-18:23)

1st Star-Victor Hedman, Bolts (power play goal-1st, assist, 5 SOG, plus-10 Corsi ES, 2 takeaways, +2 in 26 shifts-game high 27:35)

Notes: Tavares was held off the score sheet by a more attentive Lightning, who bodied up the Isles captain and limited his time and space. He finished with three shots and four attempts in 20 shifts-22:25. … The hitting was fairly even with the teams combining for 64. The Isles held a 33-31 edge led by Martin and Johnny Boychuk, who each finished with five. For Tampa, Callahan dished out a game high six. … Face offs favored the Lightning 30-26 with Boyle going 7-and-5 while Johnson was 9-and-8. Frans Nielsen was the Isles’ best going 7-and-4 while Tavares lost 12-of-21 draws. … Tampa coach Jon Cooper made two changes dressing Matt Taormina (6 shifts-+ in 5:31) and Slater Koekkoek (+1 in 11 shifts-6:47) as the sixth and seventh defensemen while benching Game One culprit Matt Carle. Injured forward Erik Condra didn’t play. … Isles’ lineup remained the same with Josh Bailey and Adam Pelech still out. … Key stat: Shot Attempts NYI-39 TBL-59

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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