Lightning blow out Islanders in Game 1; No answer for Point, Kucherov

If the Lightning were rusty coming into Game 1 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Final against the Islanders, it wasn’t easy to notice. The Lightning scored early and often in Game 1, beating the Islanders 8-2 to take a 1-0 series lead.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Lightning rout Islanders in Game 1

Just 1:14 into Game 1, Brayden Point made it clear that he’d enjoy a dominant night. That early point in Game 1 represented the most pushback from the Islanders, too, as Jordan Eberle made it 1-1 about three minutes later.

From there, the Lightning rolled against the Islanders in Game 1. Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh chipped in two more first-period goals to put the Bolts up 3-1.

By the time the second period began, it seemed clear that the Islanders might not have the juice to make this one close. Yanni Gourde was credited with a 4-1 goal after a review, and the Lightning kept piling it on.

Point enjoyed easily the most explosive playoff point production of his young career, scoring two goals and three assists. The Isles really didn’t have many answers for Point and Nikita Kucherov (also five points [1G, 4A]).

As you’d expect in such a lopsided contest, other Lightning players enjoyed strong performances. Gourde, Hedman, and Kevin Shattenkirk all piled on in this one.

If the Islanders were hoping to blame goaltending, they’d need to spread it around. Thomas Greiss started Game 1, but didn’t last long, getting pulled after 10:46 of game time (three goals allowed on nine shots). Things weren’t much more pleasant for Semyon Varlamov, either.

Plenty of questions, not much energy for Islanders

Whether Barry Trotz goes with Varlamov or Greiss in Game 2, the bottom line is that the Islanders will need to play to their strengths. The Lightning forced an uncomfortable pace for the Isles. While the Lightning showed they can handle tough defensive teams already during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s clear that the Islanders should avoid a track meet.

In Game 1, the Lightning lapped them, possibly in part because the Islanders were out of gas.

If nothing else, the Islanders thrive as underdogs, and the Bolts sure looked like favorites on Monday.

No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (TBL leads series 1-0)

Game 1: Lightning 8, Islanders 2.
Game 2: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 3:
Friday, Sept. 11, 8 p.m. ET – USA (livestream)
Game 4:
Sunday, Sept. 13, 3 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 5:
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 6:
Thursday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 7:
Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBC

*if necessary

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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