The Islanders began the game with a pretty strong first period and had two power play opportunities in the first half of the frame, but couldn’t convert on either. However, New York had some really good chances to open the scoring throughout the period and were kept off the board largely due to the play of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Islanders continued getting quality chances in the second period, managing quite a few opportunities on the rush. Finally, Mathew Barzal got the first goal of the game, taking a stretch pass from Josh Bailey and driving to the net, beating Vasilevskiy five-hole to put the Islanders up 1-0 after 40 minutes.
Ryan Pulock was able to extend New York’s lead about five minutes into the third period, beating Vasilevskiy with a point shot that he really should’ve stopped. The Lightning did fight back though, putting together their best period of the game and limiting any more chances for the Islanders. Brayden Point was able to cut the lead to one goal with under a minute to go, roofing the puck over Semyon Varlamov but the Islanders would hang on for a 2-1 win.
The Islanders had a really strong performance in Game 1. They did a great job preventing zone entries and limiting good chances for the Lightning, especially on the rush. While Varlamov was sharp, Vasilevskiy was the one facing the more frequent quality chances throughout the game. It's also worth noting that Mathew Barzal has been looking much better since about midway through New York's series against Boston and had another strong outing last night.
That’s about as good of a start to the series as we could’ve hoped for and the Islanders will now have a chance to take both games in Tampa Bay, with Game 2 tomorrow night.
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How do you feel about the Islanders' chances of beating the Lightning compared to last year?