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Lightning return to form in Game 2, tie series with Islanders

Nikita Kucherov notched three points to help the Tampa Bay Lightning even up the series against the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinal.

No, the battle-tested Lightning weren’t going to panic going down 1-0 to the Islanders. Dropping both games at home, though? That would have been bad.

Instead, the Lightning responded with a strong Game 2 effort, winning 4-2 to tie their Semifinal series with the Islanders at 1-1. Clearly, the Lightning adjusted to what Barry Trotz & Co. accomplished in Game 1, and it showed in a strong effort in Game 2.

The Islanders likely aren’t going to complain too much that the series is tied 1-1, being that the scene will shift to what will likely be a raucous Nassau Coliseum for Game 3 (8 p.m. ET; USA Network / Peacock).

Point - Varlamov, missed too many men penalty

Here’s a generous take on penalty calls (or non-calls) in Islanders - Lightning Game 2. Maybe the universe balanced itself out?

First, the Islanders seemingly received a break, as Brayden Point received a penalty for goalie interference after a collision with Semyon Varlamov, even though Adam Pelech gave him a shove. Following that Point penalty on a Varlamov collision, Brock Nelson scored almost immediately on the ensuing Islanders power play.

[More on that Point - Varlamov collision, first period of Game 2]

Then the prominent questionable penalty calls/non-calls swung the other way.

It seemed like Nikita Kucherov made his second great assist of Game 2, and it would stand in giving the Lightning a 2-1 lead over the Islanders. But it sure looked like Tampa Bay got away with a too many men on the ice penalty while scoring that goal. (They might have actually had two too many men.)

Either way, that second Kucherov assist counted on Ondrej Palat’s 2-1 goal:

So, theoretically, you could argue that the (arguably mistaken) penalty calls canceled themselves out in Islanders - Lightning Game 2? At least through the first two periods?

Both goalies made big saves to keep Islanders - Lightning Game 2 lower-scoring. In the dying moments of the second period, Andrei Vasilevskiy made a huge save on a Grade-A Anthony Beauvillier chance. Semyon Varlamov didn’t look out of sorts in the middle frame, particularly when he stopped Yanni Gourde on a shorthanded breakaway.

Lightning close out Islanders in Game 2, tie series

Early in the third period, Jan Rutta became the first Lightning defenseman to score during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was somewhat reminiscent of the Game 1 goal Vasilevskiy gave up to Ryan Pulock, although it might not haunt Varlamov to the same degree.

After taking that 3-1 lead, the Bolts could’ve totally “parked the bus.” Instead, Tampa Bay continued to make the Isles play defense.

The Lightning drew two Islanders penalties after taking a 3-1 lead in Game 2. While the Islanders survived the first opportunity of those two (the first three Lightning power plays, overall, in Game 2), eventually the Bolts found a way to strike. Nikita Kucherov collected his third assist of the game to set up a nice Victor Hedman PPG.

(If that Rutta bit didn’t make it clear, Hedman finally scored his first goal of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.)

By the time the score was 4-1, both teams were whistled for some calls, but neither squad dented the net. That is, until Mathew Barzal stayed hot by cashing in on a Jordan Eberle rebound to make it 4-2.

ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (Series tied 1-1) - series livestream link

Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Thurs. June 17: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
Game 4: Sat. June 19: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
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.