Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves, while Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored 1:48 apart in the second period of a game. This helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win against the New York Islanders, giving them their sixth consecutive playoff berth. Tampa Bay will compete against Toronto in the first round of playoffs and Toronto has an advantage because they are four points ahead with two games at-hand over Tampa Bay.
“It feels good knowing we’re in the playoffs,” said Vasilevskiy. “That gives us more faith in ourselves going forward.”
The Lightning have been successful recently, making it to the Stanley Cup Final every year since 2020 and winning two back-to-back championships. Coach Cooper has also helped them reach playoffs in nine out of the ten seasons he’s been with the team.
Cooper summed it up pretty well when he said: “We can’t have a chance at winning the championship unless we make it to the playoffs first.”
Mikhail Sergachev, Tanner Jeannot and Brayden Point all scored for the Lightning. But Mikhail Sergachev hurt his right leg during the third part of the game, so afterwards there was no news about how he is doing.
In the meantime, Vasilevskiy has gotten two shutouts in his recent three games and four overall this season. He only allowed one goal while Tampa Bay had their three-game winning streak.
Cooper said that the team is helping Vasy out a lot. He may be extraordinary, but he’s still human and needs assistance now and then. Without this help, Vasy could still manage to do well on his own.
The Islanders have a two-point lead over Florida in the East Conference playoffs race.
The Islanders captain, Anders Lee said that the second period was not great – they messed up lots of tasks and the Lightning took advantage of that. Ilya Sorokin, their New York goalie had to leave with 8 minutes 15 seconds left in the second after letting four goals in on 21 shots. He has lost all four games against the Lightning.
Brayden Point scored his 48th goal of the season with a power-play play in the third period. This made him and Steven Stamkos, who scored 36 goals at home during the 2011-12 season, the only Tampa Bay Lightning players to have 30+ goals at home in one season.
Alexandre Jeannot also scored a goal for Tampa Bay shortly after he was acquired from Nashville. He did it within 18 games of joining Tampa Bay.
Nikita Kucherov had a breakaway goal 9:57 into the second period which was followed by Steven Stamkos increasing their lead to 4-0 and ending Ilya Sorokin’s playing that night at 11:45.
Steven Stamkos scored a point in the game and broke the record of 1,052 held by Islanders Hall of Famer Denis Potvin. If he manages to score one more goal, he’ll match Pierre Turgeon’s 40th place record.
In the first period, Sergachev got a goal while Jeannot got one in the second period. Darren Raddysh and Point both had two assists each; this was also Darren’s first time scoring points at an NHL game in his 16th career match.
Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello said Mathew Barzal, who has not played since getting hurt in a game against Boston on February 18th, is ready to start playing again. Lou said he doesn’t know how long it will take Mathew to get back into the game but it is extremely positive news.
Oliver Wahlstrom, who was hurt on December 27th, won’t be able to play for the rest of this season because of his lower body injury. However, Lou reassured that Oliver will be fully recovered before summer ends.
The Islanders will play at Carolina on Sunday night, and the Lightning will play at the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. You can stay updated with the news from the NHL by visiting the AP NHL Twitter pages at https://twitter.com/NHLZonecom and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports!