NHL Bubble Wrap: Islanders could not stop Point, Lightning in Game 1

NHL Bubble Wrap: Islanders could not stop Point, Lightning in Game 1
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Game 1: Lightning 8, Islanders 2 (TBL leads series 1-0)

Just 1:14 into Game 1, Brayden Point burned the Islanders defense to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Really the only major sign of pushback came when Jordan Eberle tied things up 1-1 with a power-play goal. After two goals by Lightning defensemen, it already looked like an uphill battle for the Isles to fight from down 3-1. They never really mustered much of a battle. If fatigue was the main reason for this defeat, the Islanders have to hope that the grind really slows down the Bolts as this series goes along. Or it could be another relatively short series in the Lightning’s favor.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars of Lightning – Islanders Game 1

1. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning

For the first time in his playoff career, Point managed a five-point game. The small-but-stupendous forward collected two goals and three assists, pushing his postseason total to 18 points in just 13 games.

Heading into the 2020 Eastern Conference Final, Point already set a career-high for points by reaching 18. Now he’s second in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 23, trailing only eliminated Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon. He was not necessarily the Conn Smythe frontrunner before, but Game 1 vaulted Point into the meat of that conversation.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

If Kucherov isn’t truly healthy, then take mercy on opponents once he is. He worked in tandem with Point to embarrass the Islanders in Game 1. You know your team’s having a big night when this is true, but Kucherov had the “less impressive” five-point night.

With some nifty transition work and a nice setup by Point, Kucherov scored one goal. He also generated four assists as the Lightning ran away with that one. As solid as the Islanders’ opponents have been, have they really dealt with anything close to the Kucherov – Point duo during these 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

3. Victor Hedman, Lightning

Boy, is Hedman ever red-hot from a shooting standpoint? By scoring the second Lightning goal, Hedman won’t get credit for the game-winner, but that 2-1 tally was important in starting an onslaught. Overall, Hedman finished with a goal and two assists in Game 1, all on a domineering TB power play.

Remember when it looked like Hedman might deal with injury issues for another postseason? It sure looks like he’s healthy. Or at least healthy enough to be a star the Lightning can lean on.

Lightning – Islanders Game 1 highlights:

Bulldoze, indeed.

Factoids

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Golden Knights vs. Stars (DAL leads 1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

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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