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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay takes series lead in Round 2

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Unlike many other sports leagues, the NHL continued to play on Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a very close win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2, the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated the opponent in yesterday’s game and took a 2-1 lead in the series, scoring a 7-1 victory last night.

After 16 scoreless power play opportunities, the Bolts finally broke the ice: Ondrej Palat opened the scoring on the power play, driving home a one-timer from the right circle. Just 16 seconds later Yanni Gourde doubled the score after a solo-entry with a little help from the linesman, who accidentally stood in the way of the Bruins defenceman.

The Lightning scored another power play goal early in the second period, this time it was Mikhail Sergachev with a snipe from blueline. Brad Marchand gave some false hope to Boston fans a little bit later, but the Lightning responded quickly with the third power play goal of the game by Alex Killorn. After this goal Boston replaced Jaroslav Halak with a Czech goaltender Dan Vladar, who made his NHL debut in this game. Just four minutes later he allowed his first NHL goal by Brayden Point. Alex Killorn recorded his second goal of the game late in the period, scoring off the rebound after Gourde’s shot.

In the third period things got a little bit ugly: Charlie McAvoy went after Nikita Kucherov several times which resulted in a game-misconduct for him minutes after Kucherov scored a seventh goal for the Lightning. Torey Krug was also sent off in late minutes of the game. Eventually the Lightning finished the game with 7-1, the next game is scheduled for Friday.

Nikita Kucherov recorded a four-point game lasted night and tied with Martin St. Louis for most career playoff goals in the Lightning history.

He has also become the fourth Lightning player to record four points in a single playoff game, trailing only to Sidney Crosby in playoff points in the whole NHL since entering the league.

Yesterday’s Other Results

New York Islanders 3-4 Philadelphia Flyers – series tied 1-1

The Flyers played definitely the best first period in the bubble last night: Kevin Hayes opened the scoring with two goals in first ten minutes of the game. Sean Couturier made it 3-0 five minutes before the end of the period, walking past the whole Islanders defence.

Prior to the goals by Philly, Semyon Varlamov established an Islanders playoff record for longest shutout streak by a goaltender (137:00), but after allowing three goals in 15 minutes he was replaced in the net by Thomas Greiss, probably not how Varlamov imagined the end of his streak. However, after that first period, things were less than ideal for Philadelphia: the Islanders outshot the opponent in the second period, controlling the pace of the game which resulted in a Anders Lee power play goal.

The third period continued in the same way: first Anthony Beauvillier cut the lead to one goal and then Jean-Gabriel Pageau tied the game two minutes before the end of the period, sending both teams to overtime. Luckily for the Flyers, they got themselves together in overtime: Phil Myers fired the puck past Greiss from a blueline, giving his team a much-needed victory and the series is tied 1-1.

Colorado Avalanche 6-4 Dallas Stars – Dallas lead series 2-1

The Avalanche started the game missing several depth players to injuries, including goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Erik Johnson, and also trailing 0-2 in the series. The lack of impact from depth players has been significant so far for the Avs – while top lines leading by Nathan MacKinnon still provided some goals and assists, bottom lines have been outplayed by Dallas and remained mostly scoreless.

The Stars opened a score in the first period, when Tyler Seguin sent the puck into the net after Jamie Benn’s pass from behind the net. Dallas controlled the game till the end of the period, however they didn’t managed to double the score. Colorado responded heavily in the second period: Nikita Zadorov, Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog each scored a goal during ten minutes of play. The Stars recovered from it in the third period, they even surpassed the pace of their opponent, scoring three goals in six minutes. Although it didn’t last long: just two minutes after the Stars’ four goals of the game, Nazem Kadri redirected a long-distance shot by Kevin Connauton, giving the Avalanche a 5-4 lead. Dallas tried to push late in the game, but allowed an empty-netter by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, which happened to be his first career playoff goal.

The Avalanche cut the lead in the series, but still trailing 1-2.

Today’s Games

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders – series tied 1-1

7:00 PM ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN

The second game in two days for both teams. Last night the Islanders showed a lot of character and were very close to taking a 2-0 lead in the series. The real question for them is which goalie will start in tonight’s game: Thomas Greiss had a solid game in relief, despite allowing an overtime goal, but another start could mean a lot for Semyon Varlamov’s confidence.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks – series tied 1-1

9:45 PM ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN

The Canucks recovered after a big loss in Game 1 with a confident win over the Golden Knights in Game 2, leading by Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller. Just like the Islanders, the Golden Knights need to decide which goalie will start the next game: Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury.

Other News and Notes

In the light of the recent events, many sports league in North America postponed games scheduled for Wednesday night. The NHL continued all games, responding with a moment of reflection before the start of the Tampa Bay/ Boston game.

The Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba supported NBA players on their decision to boycott tonight’s games with a message on Twitter

Evander Kane has also shared a message, criticizing the NHL for not postponing the game.

The NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that the league is not planning to postpone the games, however according to his words “we will see if the players feel differently and will respond appropriately and as necessary“.

The Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson was one of the few players who took a knee before the round-robin game, explained why the NHL continued to play last night.

According to Jon Cooper, the team wasn’t aware of the boycotts, because they were preparing for the game against Boston.

As the NHL announced yesterday, the Arizona Coyotes have been stripped of the 2nd round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and 1st round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft for violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy during this season. No person related to the team will be sanctioned.

Finally some good news: the Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien, who recently suffered a heart attack, said that he will return coaching next season.