The prevailing thought heading into the Eastern Conference Final is that the Tampa Bay Lightning would have to work hard to find the space needed to get their offense going against the New York Islanders. While there is still a long way to go in the series, for one night it was the skill and speed of the Lightning that created that space.
It didn’t take long for Lightning to strike on Monday night. Less that two minutes into the game, Brayden Point wheeled into the zone on a line change and around an Islanders defender before tucking it past goaltender Thomas Greiss to open the scoring.
Sadly, Ryan Pulock probably thought he was in a pretty good position to defend Point as the Lightning forward entered the zone. He wanted to push him wide and away from any support that might be coming off the bench.
It’s a good plan, but sometimes good plans aren’t enough. Pulock first error is that he falls for a subtle little stutter step (stutter skate?). Now he’s a bit off balance and that gives Point the space to go around him. Pulock tries to lean on him a bit and gives a little whack at the puck.
Point shields him off (despite giving up about 50 lbs.) and uses his momentum to spin the defender off of him. Now he has a choice, jam a pass to Ondrej Palat in front of the net or try and slide between Griess and defender Adam Pelech. He chooses the latter option and is able to beat Greiss to the far post and poke the puck into the back of the net.
That opened up a three-goal first period for the Lightning. Point would add a second goal in the second period on a nifty deflection. He remains pretty good at hockey.