Islanders withstand Lightning rally, take Game 1

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People will wonder if the Tampa Bay Lightning were rusty, but it doesn’t really matter; the New York Islanders managed to win Game 1 regardless of the spin you put on it.

Tampa Bay made things awfully interesting for at least a spell, as the Isles saw a 4-1 lead shrink to 4-3 in the third period, but an empty-netter locked down a 5-3 win for New York.

It will be intriguing to see if Jon Cooper goes back to Ben Bishop in Game 2. The towering goalie struggled – though shabby defense should be noted, too – before being pulled midway through the second period.

Defense was a little leaky on both sides … although maybe you can chalk that up to the talent on each team, at least to some extent?

For all the attention Steven Stamkos‘ absence rightfully gets, Nikita Kucherov found the net for the sixth time this postseason. Unfortunately for the Lightning, Tavares also scored his sixth of the playoffs, a goal which booted Bishop and ultimately counted as the game-winner.

There were some bumps and bruises in this game, with Erik Condra hurt from a huge hit and even Jack Capuano needing to exit briefly after taking a puck to the head.

The Islanders leave Game 1 with a 1-0 series lead and (for those who believe in it) the “momentum.” If this series is any way to judge, we could be in for a real treat.