The playoffs are Brayden Point‘s time to shine.
The Tampa Bay Lightning star continued his postseason dominance on Thursday night by scoring the game-winning goal late in the second period of a 2-1 Game 3 win. That win gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead over the New York Islanders in their semifinal series and moves them to within two games of another trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Point’s goal is already his 11th this postseason in only 14 games. It also extends his current goal-scoring streak to six consecutive games, which is the longest playoff streak since Martin Havlat scored in six consecutive games for the Ottawa Senators during the 2005-06 playoffs.
His latest goal was also a highlight reel goal as he beat Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov while falling to the ice after being cross-checked. You can see it in the video above.
[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
As if all of that is not enough, it helps put him in some pretty exclusive company among postseason goal scorers.
For his career Point now has 33 goals in 58 career postseason games (that would be a 47-goal pace over 82 games). Among players that have appeared in at least 30 career postseason games, that goals per game rate is seventh best all time behind only Maurice Richard and a bunch of players that spent the bulk of their careers in the greatest era of offense ever.
Brayden Point scored to give the @TBLightning a 2-1. With 33 goals in 58 career postseason games, he sits among elite company in terms of playoff production. #StanleyCup#NHLStats: https://t.co/tjtuhBOMaV pic.twitter.com/z3Ob60LJ2w
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 18, 2021
Pretty good group of hockey players there.
Aside from Point’s goal, Thursday was also a case of the Lightning taking a page out of the Islanders playbook to beat them at their own game.
For most of the night it was a smothering defensive effort as they held the Islanders to two goals or less for the third time in as many games in this series. New York’s only goal was a Cal Clutterbuck goal in the second period that only happened because Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak tried to play the puck back into Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s pads instead of clearing it away.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]
The Lightning were at their best defensively in the closing two minutes after the Islanders pulled Varlamov for the extra skater. During that time Tampa Bay put on a clinical display of puck possession and defense to not really allow the Islanders to even come close to tying the game or getting set up in the offensive zone.
It is a good example as to what makes the Lightning such a dominant team in the NHL right now. They can literally beat you anyway you want to play them. If you want to get into a back-and-forth game where you trade scoring chances? They have the skill to outscore you. If you want to slow the game down to a crawl and play a tight-checking, defensive minded game? They have the defenders, defensive structure, and especially the goalie to do that as well.
It is a big reason they are playing in the semifinals for the fifth time in seven years and two wins away from reaching their third Stanley Cup Final (and potentially second in a row) during that stretch.
ISLANDERS VS. LIGHTNING (Lightning Lead Series 2-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Islanders 2, Lightning 1
Game 2: Lightning 4, Islanders 2
Game 3: Lightning 2, Islanders 1
Game 4: Sat. June 19: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
Game 5: Mon. June 21: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 6: Wed. June 23: Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 7: Fri. June 25: Islanders at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.