EDMONTON—Brayden Point scored twice and added three assists, and the well-rested Tampa Bay Lightning romped to an 8-2 win over the travel- and game-weary New York Islanders to open the NHL Eastern Conference final on Monday night.
The Lightning showed no signs of rust following a near weeklong break after eliminating the Boston Bruins in their second-round series with a 3-2 double-overtime win on Aug. 31. They instead resembled a refreshed team by scoring three times on nine shots to build a 3-1 lead by the 10:46 mark of the first period, and matched a franchise record for goals in a playoff game.
Nikita Kucherov had four assists and scored his 34th career playoff goal, breaking a tie with Martin St. Louis for first on the franchise list. Yanni Gourde scored twice, Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists and Ryan McDonagh and Ondrej Palat also scored for the second-seeded Lightning. Game 2 is Wednesday night at Rogers Place.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves and the Lightning have won five straight, matching their longest playoff run since 2015.
The Islanders, by comparison, came out flat, looking like a team that spent Sunday flying to Edmonton from Toronto, a day after a 4-0 win over Philadelphia in Game 7 of their second-round series.
Thomas Greiss, who stopped 16 shots for his first post-season shutout on Saturday, was yanked after giving up three goals on nine shots. He was replaced by Semyon Varlamov, who gave up five on 25 shots.
Jordan Eberle briefly tied the game at 1-1 with a power-play goal for New York, the only remaining team that played a preliminary round elimination series. Nick Leddy’s third-period goal briefly cut the Lightning lead to 6-2.
The eight goals allowed matched a franchise worst, set in an 8-3 loss to the New York Rangers in the Islanders’ second-ever playoff game on April 10, 1975.
Point opened the scoring 74 seconds in by bursting up the left wing, getting a step a around Ryan Pulock, driving to the net and wrapping the puck around Greiss.
After Eberle scored, the Lightning struck for two goals on consecutive shots, 2:34 apart.
Hedman, from the blue line and set up by Point’s no-look pass, blasted a shot inside the left post with Greiss screened by Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn on a power play. Then McDonagh beat Greiss high on the short side from the left circle.
Point extended his point streak to seven games, in which he’s combined for four goals and 12 assists. He has a point in 13 of Tampa Bay’s 14 playoff games this year. He and Kucherov’s five-point outings were each career highs and marked a franchise record for the Lightning.
The Lightning piled on by scoring twice in the second period, including a delayed goal by Gourde following a video review as play progressed. The horn was blown 14 seconds after Gourde’s shot crossed the goal line and bounced off Islanders defenceman Andy Greene’s stick, which was in the net.
Islanders checking-line forward Cal Clutterbuck briefly returned to the bench but did not play in the third period. He limped off midway through the second period, after taking Mikhail Sergachev’s slap shot off his right ankle.
Frustration also set in late in the second period, when New York’s Mathew Barzal angrily slammed his stick on the glass following a missed scoring opportunity.