After two intense and entertaining rounds of playoff hockey, the first game of the NHL semifinals got underway last night as the defending champions from Tampa Bay kicked things off against JG Pageau and the New York Islanders.
Last Night’s Game
New York Islanders 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1 - NYI leads 1-0
As far as hockey game go, this one was, at a high level, quite evenly matched. Both teams had 31 shots on net, the Lightning out-hit the Islanders by just one hit and the game ended with a narrow 2-1 victory. After a tame first period with no goals to show for their efforts, Mathew Barzal finally broke open the scoring just over halfway through the second period. A turnover in the offensive zone by Lightning captain Steven Stamkos sent the Islanders the other way, with Barzal cashing in on a partial break through Andrei Vasilevsky’s legs.
Five minutes into the second, after some board work from Jordan Eberle, Ryan Pulock found the back of the net from the point for his fourth of the playoffs. Brayden Point managed to get the Lightning on the board with a powerplay marker in the final minute but it wasn’t enough and the Islanders took game one.
Montreal Canadiens @ Vegas Golden Knights, 9pm ET
The other series gets underway tonight as a battle of two of the best goalies in this year’s playoffs gets underway. Carey Price leads the Habs into the final four with an 8-3-0 record, 1.97 GAA and 0.935 SV%. Price leads all goalies in save percentage while the only goalie still in it to win it who has a better goals against average is, you guessed it, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Up front, Tyler Toffoli has successfully transitioned his solid regular season play into the postseason, leading Montreal with four goals and six assists in 11 games - including three and three in his last five. Nick Suzuki, Joel Armia and Eric Staal sit just behind Toffoli. William Karlsson leads the Golden Knights with four goals and seven assists in these playoffs, with Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone right behind him with eight a piece.
For both teams, the big question is who will blink first. Both Montreal and Vegas have had a few down moments throughout the playoffs but, for the most part, both have played exceptional hockey since the regular season ended.
Who takes game one? I’m excited to find out.