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Pulock, Islanders survive Lightning Game 4 rally, tie series 2-2

New York raced out to a 3-0 lead and barely survived a furious Tampa Bay rally to narrowly win Game 4 and tie the semifinal series at 2-2.

When the Islanders went up 3-0 in Game 4, it wasn’t easy to imagine the game coming down to a crucial Ryan Pulock blocked shot. The Lightning made the Islanders sweat, but New York pulled off enough plays to win Game 4 by a score of 3-2, thus tying this tight series 2-2.

As sharp as Semyon Varlamov has been -- he was great again in Game 4 -- maybe it’s fitting that Pulock saved the day. This continues to be a team effort for the Islanders, who will get at least one more night in front of their raucous fans after winning Game 4.

Feast your eyes on that beautiful Ryan Pulock block on a very clever spin move by Ryan McDonagh. Or should we call it a save by Pulock?

After a stingy first period, this one really picked up over the last 40 minutes. Even if we seemed one alert play from overtime.

Islanders dominate second period of Game 4

For those who observe the Islanders at a bird’s-eye-view, it might feel like they deploy a “bend-but-don’t-break” strategy, particularly against the Lightning.

At times, that’s true. But this Islanders team can also overwhelm opponents, and they did so against the Lightning during the second period of Game 4.

Here are some tidbits from that impressive 20 minutes:

  • Most obviously, the Islanders built a 3-0 lead, with all three of those goals coming against the Lightning during that second period.
  • The shots on goal told some of the story. The Isles generated 17, while limiting Tampa Bay to nine.
  • Followers of Barry Trotz’s team will emphasize quality-over-quantity, and that was there, too. Via Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders generated a 5-1 high-danger chance advantage over the Lightning at even-strength during the second period of Game 4. A period earlier, the Bolts managed a 6-2 edge, so that was a nice response. (And while Tampa Bay went empty-handed, the Isles scored those three goals.)

There were times when Tampa Bay’s defensemen must have felt hopeless -- and certainly out of gas. Take a look at the TOI report and you’ll see that Erik Cernak (2:47), Jan Rutta (2:28; 1:49) and Ryan McDonagh (2:47; 1:43) ranked among those who experienced some nightmare shifts.

So, this wasn’t the example of the Islanders just “turtling” in their zone. As great as they were defensively, they also hogged the puck at times.

It can be easier to play great defense when you’re not having to do it all game, right?

Lightning storm back in third period of Game 4

Down 3-0, the Lightning looked toast in Game 4. But if any team can at least make the Islanders sweat in a situation like that in Game 4, it might be the Lightning, right?

Tampa Bay made a mad rush to get into this. First, Brayden Point stayed hot by scoring 3:45 into the third. Less than two minutes later, Tyler Johnson scored a surprising goal to reduce the Isles’ lead to 3-2.

Wisely, Barry Trotz called a timeout after that Tyler Johnson goal. From there, the Islanders settled things down.

Blame a shaky late Victor Hedman tripping penalty as much as you want, but the Lightning ultimately couldn’t create enough to make it 3-3, so the Islanders ultimately won Game 4 to tie the series 2-2.

ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (Series tied 2-2) - series livestream link

Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Islanders 3, Lightning 2
Game 5: Mon. June 21: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)

*if necessary

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.