Victor Hedman helps Lightning even series with win over Islanders

Victor Hedman netted one goal and one assist and Nikita Kucherov collected three assists to lead the host Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday and even their Stanley Cup playoff semifinal series.

“It was huge,” Hedman said. “The first game, no one mentioned that the defense didn’t score any goals, but you lose that game and all of a sudden it gets mentioned. We wanted to put an end to that tonight. What better way than top shelf by ‘Roots.’ We’re super happy obviously with the win, and we’re excited to go up to Long Island and keep it going.”

Lightning even series

Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta also scored for the defending Stanley Cup champions, while goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 24 saves in the victory that ties the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

“We’ve got good leadership in our room, and they keep our team from getting too high or too low,” Point said. ” … I don’t know, it’s tough to put a finger on it really. It’s gone good so far, but we can’t be happy with just this one. It’s going to be a hard, long series. We’ve got to look at the next one.”

The series shifts to Long Island on Thursday for the first of two clashes.

lightning islanders playoffs
Jun 15, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) is congratulated as he scores a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period in game two of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal scored for the Islanders, while starting goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots. Varlamov was forced to leave the game with 6:50 remaining in the first period after Point was pushed into him in a violent collision, but he returned after the first intermission.

“We knew a very good hockey team was going to have a desperate push,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “From my standpoint, we can be a lot better and we will be. We knew they were going to have their ‘A’ game.

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Backup goalie Ilya Sorokin stopped all six shots he faced in his brief appearance.

Victor Hedman came up big in Game 2

Looking to rebound after dropping the opener, the Lightning drew first blood at the 8:58 mark when Point opened the scoring with his 10th tally of the playoffs. Kucherov sent a no-look pass to Point at the doorstep, and he converted to extend his goal-scoring streak to five games.

Nelson scored on a rebound to even the score at 13:30 of the game on a dubious power-play when Point was assessed a goaltender interference penalty despite being pushed into Varlamov, but the Lightning responded with a trio of goals.

Palat restored Tampa Bay’s lead thanks to another great setup by Kucherov. After receiving a long pass to get to the offensive zone, Kucherov waited until Palat joined the play and fed a pass to the slot for Palat to bury at 13:15 of the second period.

Rutta extended the lead 2:16 into the third period with his first career playoff goal and his team’s first playoff marker from a defenseman. Amidst a dominating shift, Rutta was set up at his point position and blasted a one-timer into the top corner to make it 3-1.

Hedman added another defenseman goal on the power play just before the midway point of the third period when he buried a wrist shot from the left circle with 10:43 remaining in regulation.

Barzal buried a loose puck with 3:16 left on the clock to round out the scoring.

–Field Level Media