Tampa Bay Lightning advance to Stanley Cup final with Game 7 shutout against New York Islanders

The New York Islanders missed out on a victory in their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984, down in a 1-0 loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals ( ish) against the Lightning in Tampa.

The loss ends an epic run with many memorable playoff moments for this adorable Islanders team, who conspired with fans to send Nassau Coliseum to retirement (NHL playoffs) with a few other stories in their history. In this third round alone there were moments that were sadly part of a lost cause but will not be forgotten for how they were the best in the sport – like Ryan Pulock’s game savior in the game. 4 and the OT winner of Anthony Beauvillier in game 6.

Sadly, this rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals ends with the same end result – the Lightning returning to the Stanley Cup Final – but this one played seven games instead of six, and the Isles have pushed the defending champions as far as they can without taking them down. Both franchises had the added joy of having fans in attendance to make everything feel real.

In Game 7, Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves, but the game turned on the only shot he allowed, a shorthanded goal from Yanni Gourde at 1:49 of the second period. The Lightning went all out to protect the lead to the end, blocking 21 shots in total – Andrei Vasilevskiy needed just 18 saves for the shutout – and delivering a disciplined performance to smother the Islands. You don’t have to like them, but you can take your hat off on how they closed it.

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First period: just a little better than Game 5

The last time the Islands were in Tampa it was a record franchise massacre that started badly and only got worse in Game 5. This time around there were no tough rebounds. to start off on the wrong foot, and the islands seemed rigid to prevent a repeat.

The Lightning came out with a tough, coordinated forward check and had the best of the game in the first period, while the Islanders patiently flexed and absorbed the pressure. The islands’ worst change came early, when the JG Pageau line was surrounded and several attempts to escape were blocked. This set a bit of an early tone, and the Lightning had several stretches where they maintained possession in the island area and tried to bait or crisscross the islands out of their structure, but their best luck during the time. zone came from outside fire through traffic or traffic jams.

But Victor Hedman had the most dangerous chance overall, after Nick Leddy attempted to catch a Mikhail Sergachev lob pass through the neutral zone and demonstrated inferior execution skills on the shortstop. This freed Hedman for a break-in alone, where he forced a good save from Semyon Varlamov’s stick side to stop a aimed shot just inside the near post.

The Islanders rarely pressed play in the Tampa zone and took little risk. In the end, they were far too safe to go out of their own area or attempt counterattacks, but at least that care extended to avoiding the penalty area as well.

Ultimately, the official shots in the first were 14-5 for the Lightning, but the important ledger remained 0-0.

Second and third periods: the shortcut to death

Having the islands escaped from the first unscathed was true to your desired storyline, and a power play at the start of the second helped build a happy story.

Instead, the game’s only penalty turned out to be devastating.

Barely 50 seconds into the second period, Barclay Goodrow was whistled for cross-control – because sometimes they call it – and the Isles applied decent pressure during the first minute of the power play. But the line on the ice was at the end of a long shift with the puck in the zone, and no one played Anthony Cirelli as hard as he should have as he sank into the corner of the islands area.

He gave a pass to Yanni Gourde, who entered the lunge and placed his shot perfectly at the near post. The Isles suddenly lost 1-0, the Tampa crowd and its noisemaker gifts came to life, and the Lightning had the lead they needed to force the Isles to push the game.

Anthony Beauvillier had a gentle deflection of the bar in the tight, probably their best and closest chance to tie in the second.

The third period saw the Lightning completely reverse the script on the islands, keep the events low, and use the panels and wedges to keep the islands and the puck away from where they needed to go.

There were a few late chances including Mathew Barzal twice from the bottom, Beauvillier in traffic and a few desperate setbacks from a distance. But the Lightning blocked shots, obstructed the middle, disrupted the flow of the neutral zone, and were generally very Trotzians.

Post-match reactions

Player reactions say it all …


The Lightning therefore faces the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup final and tries a repeat of the Cup won last summer in the bubble.

The Islanders are moving on to offseason plans, with the draft and free agency coming quickly in July, and plenty of decisions to be made, ranging from loyal center Casey Cizikas to the ex-Devils trio they acquired at the during the last two commercial deadlines.

Thank you

Here we’ll have autopsies, podcasts, school reports, and our usual assortment of nonsense. But for now, we’re just sharing the pain, frosting our mental blues, and offering all of you, readers and commentators, a huge thank you for sharing with us a great 2020-21 journey.

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