Yanni Gourde’s second-period, short-handed goal was the difference and Andrei Vasilevskiy collected the shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a home-ice 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders in their Game 7 clash Friday night.
The Lightning, the defending Cup champions, will face the Montreal Canadiens in the championship round, which kicks off on Monday in Tampa.
Vasilevskiy made 18 saves to earn his fourth shutout of this year’s playoffs and the fifth of his career in the postseason. He has collected a shutout in each of Tampa Bay’s past four series-clinching victories, including Game 6 of last year’s finals against the Dallas Stars.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots in a Herculean effort for the Islanders, who have been eliminated by the Lightning in the semifinals in consecutive years. The Islanders were shut out in their final two road games during the exciting series.
“It [stinks] getting back to this point and coming up short again,” New York center Mathew Barzal said. “We’ve got guys like [Josh Bailey] and [Andy Greene], veteran guys. Being a young guy, I’ve got a few more years, but those guys, it’s more for those guys. It hurts seeing those guys in the locker room afterwards, just how close we were.”NHL.com
Lightning textbook performance wins Game 7
After the Lightning dominated play all through the opening period to no avail, despite a 15-5 edge in shots, Gourde’s goal early in the second period broke the deadlock.
After a rush up ice, Anthony Cirelli circled with the puck in the offensive zone and spied Gourde as he joined the play from off the bench. Gourde buried a one-timer from the slot for his fifth goal of the playoffs at the 1:49 mark of the frame.
It was the first-ever short-handed goal in a Game 7 by a Tampa Bay player.
The Lightning, who have now won 13 consecutive playoff games following a defeat, maintained momentum for almost the whole game.
“The last game, we tried to defend in Game 6, and this game we attacked the whole way, the whole game,” Vasilevskiy said. “That was just a textbook Game 7.”NHL.com
Had it not been for Varlamov, it would have been a much more one-sided score. The Islanders netminder made all kinds of key stops to keep his team in the game — among them back-to-back saves on Cirelli and Steven Stamkos in the middle of the second period.
–Field Level Media