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Yanni Gourde scored the only goal shorthanded, and the Lightning beat the Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 Friday at Amalie Arena to return to the Stanley Cup final for a second straight season.
Tampa Bay, which won the best-of-seven semifinal series four games to three, will play Montreal in the Cup final, which begins Monday in Tampa.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 18 shots he faced to become the first goaltender in NHL history to record three series-clinching shutouts in the same postseason.
Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn assisted on the winning goal. Ryan McDonagh had five hits and two blocks to lead the defense.
Here’s how it happened:
Bailey shot from the slot wide of the net
Palat on the Lightning bench. He might have been hit by a McDonagh shot
Rutta shot from the right point blocked up out of play
Killorn forces the puck out of the Lightning zone
Point shot from the left circle held by Varlamov
Colton shot from left circle doesn’t get through to the net after a feed from Johnson from below the end line
Islanders’ Komarov has gone to the locker room
Bailey shot from the slot sticked aside by Vasilevskiy and Point clears the puck out of the zone
Hedman clears the puck out of the zone after Vasilevskiy fights off Dobson shot from the right point with his shoulder
Centering pass for Bailey goes off his stick
Martin backhand shot blocked in front of the net
Barzal fans on chance from the left circle with an open net in front of him, then has a shot blocked
Palat shot misses the net
Varlamov saves Gourde bad-angle shot, and Coleman unable to get to the puck in front
Varlamov goes off the ice for an extra attacker with more than two minutes remaining
Gourde sends the puck down the ice, and Goodrow beats the Islanders to the puck, enabling the Lightning to keep the puck deep in the Islanders zone
Sergachev shot blocked by Bailey
Palat clears the puck
(Lightning win 1-0)
Goodrow penalized for cross-checking Pelech in the offensive zone, and the Islanders get the first power play
McDonagh laboring after blocking Palmieri shot
Leddy shot from the center point doesn’t get through
Cernak blocks a shot
McDonagh picks off a pass and the Lightning clear the zone
LIGHTNING GOAL! Gourde scores shorthanded from the slot after Cirelli feeds him from the right circle. The play started when McDonagh intercepted a pass in the Lightning zone. Lightning 1, Islanders 0.
Pulock shot blocked
Puck gets past Pulock and exits the zone
Lightning kill the penalty
Varlamov fights off Kucherov shot from the left circle with his blocker
Varlamov with a glove save on Cernak
Savard hits Palmieri
Varlamov stops Gourde shot from left circle
Hedman shot/pass wide right of the net
Kucherov shot misses the net
Varlamov stops Cirelli backhand shot from the slot
Varlamov sticks aside Stamkos shot from the left circle
Cernak blocks Pelech shot
Sergachev laboring after being hit by Martin into the end boards
Sergachev briefly left the Lightning bench but has now returned
Sergachev shot blocked in front
Hedman shot from the high slot appears to be tipped by Palat but Varlamov keeps it out of the net
Savard shot deflects wide off stick of Mayfield and skate of Maroon
Colton with a nice move below the goal line but doesn’t see Maroon, who is open
Gourde shot from the right faceoff dot stopped by Varlamov after the Isles couldn’t get the puck out of their zone
Mayfield shot from the right point gloved by Vasilevskiy. Puck was going wide, anyway
Mayfield shot from the point deflects wide
Eberle wrist shot blocked by McDonagh
Palmieri shot from the left circle misses the net
Barzal shot from the side boards blocked
(Lightning lead 1-0 after two periods)
Leddy blocks Killorn shot, but Killorn stays with the puck and gets it to the net. Varlamov makes the save.
Varlamov saves Cernak shot from the side of the net
Pageau ties up Point as Kucherov tried to get the puck to him in the slot
Point shot from the slot doesn’t get through to the net. Mayfield blocked the shot.
Vasilevskiy stops Beauvillier on a breakaway with a right pad save
Greene with a big hit on Gourde
Colton knocks down Clutterbuck along the boards in front of the Lightning bench
Rutta shot from the right point blocked by Martin
Rutta can’t keep the puck in the offensive zone and the Islanders gain possession
Pelech hits Coleman
Vasilevskiy kicks out Zajac shot
Coleman eventually lifts the puck out of the zone, relieving pressure
Johnson has a chance in front but his shot goes off Greene’s skate
Nelson shot blocked up out of play
Varlamov stops Hedman shot off a partial breakaway
Johnson shot short-side shot hits Varlamov up near the mask
Greene takes the puck from Stamkos as he entered the Islanders zone 1-on-2
Varlamov stops Killorn shot from the left circle
Clutterbuck backhand shot from the slot misses wide
Coleman shot from the sideboards kicked out by Varlamov
(No score after one period)
Pregame scouting report
The team with the worst record in the postseason field has clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup final. Now, it’s time for the defending champions to do their part to join them.
The Lightning will either advance to the NHL’s championship series for a second consecutive season or be eliminated from the playoffs, depending on the outcome of tonight’s game against the New York Islanders.
The Stanley Cup semifinal series is tied at three games apiece entering Game 7 at 8 p.m. at Amalie Arena. The winner will host the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup final starting on Monday.
The status of Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov, the postseason’s leading scorer with 27 points, is expected to be a game-time decision. Kucherov left Game 6 on Wednesday after being cross-checked in the back by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield on his first shift of the game.
In Kucherov’s absence, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli moved up to the first line at times during Game 6 to play alongside center Brayden Point and left wing Ondrej Palat. Cirelli, with a goal and an assist, was the most effective of the bunch and saw the most time on the line.
Palat took Kucherov’s spot in the right circle on the power play.
Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak, hit hard into the end boards by New York’s Matt Martin in Game 4, also will be a game-time decision. Luke Schenn has started the past two games in his absence.
Also missing in the third period of Game 6 was the Lightning’s forechecking game, as Tampa Bay allowed New York to play in the offensive zone for much of the period, opening the door for an Islanders comeback in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Can a Lightning team that is 12-0 over the past two postseasons in games following a playoff loss bounce back one more time with its season on the line?
Follow along, starting at 8 p.m., and we’ll find out together.
Setting the scene
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