Palat has a taste for the net

Michael Finewax
·5 min read



In a New York minute.

That’s how long the Lightning needed to take the game back from the Islanders after New York made it 1-0 in the second period.

After consulting the highest authorities, apparently a New York minute lasts only 27 seconds. That is how long it took Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat to score after Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

The Lightning now have a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Final and they could finish off the series with a win on Tuesday.

The Dallas Stars are also up 3-1 and will end the hopes of the Vegas Golden Knights Monday with a victory. The Stars have not been to the Cup Final since 2000 when they lost to the New Jersey Devils.

For all the talk that the Golden Knights are outplaying the Stars, the truth of the matter is that Anton Khudobin is outplaying everyone and at this time has to be considered the favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the outstanding player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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TAMPA BAY 4 NEW YORK ISLANDERS 1 (Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series 3-1)

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots as the Lightning upended the New York Islanders 4-1.

After a scoreless first period, the Islanders opened the scoring on a great shot from Brock Nelson. The New York winger scored a beauty as he grabbed the puck, snuck between a couple of Lightning players and fired a perfect wrist shot into the top corner, past Vasilevskiy.

But the lead was short-lived as on the ensuing face off, the Islanders shot the puck into the Lightning zone. Vasilevskiy gave a short pass to Yanni Gourde who found Blake Coleman on a long stretch pass. Coleman went in alone on Semyon Varlamov and beat him with a deke.

Coleman has been a great addition to the Lightning. In a great article by Joe Smith of The Athletic, he writes how GM Julien Brisebois realized the Lightning needed some toughness when it came to playoff time, so he spent some draft capital and picked up Coleman from the Devils for a first-round pick in 2020 as well as Nolan Foote, and then pestered San Jose GM Doug Wilson into giving up Barclay Goodrow and a third round pick in 2020 for Anthony Greco and a first-rounder in 2020. The Lightning had an extra first rounder from Vancouver when they traded J.T. Miller in the 2019 off-season. The Lightning also inked Pat Maroon to a contract in the summer of ’19 and the trio have been the mainstays of the bottom-six, giving the Lightning plenty of grit.

After Coleman scored, Ondrej Palat continued being the hottest scorer in the NHL as he potted his eighth goal in his last eight games on a pretty passing play with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. It came only 12 seconds after Coleman tied it up and only 27 seconds after Nelson scored.

The second period ended 2-1 and the trio combined to make it 3-1 at the 3:33 mark of the third period when Point banged home his own rebound after a nice passing play between Kucherov and Palat.

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The Islanders pulled Varlamov with three minutes to go but Maroon ended it with an empty netter to make it a 4-1 final.

Vasilevskiy is 13-4 in the post-season with a 1.93 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He has been outstanding and should receive consideration for the Conn Smythe if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup.

Varlamov stopped 32-of-35 shots and is 10-6 with a 2.30 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

Gourde and Kucherov each had two assists. Kucherov’s two-point game, ties him with Nathan MacKinnon for the lead in points in the Stanley Cup playoffs with 25 along with teammate Braydon Point who also had a two-point game Sunday.

Palat and Point each had five shots on goal.

Cedric Paquette had seven hits.

Surprisingly, there were many stats that were equaled by both teams. The Lightning and Islanders each had 48 hits, 17 blocked shots and four minors apiece.

Both teams were 0-3 on the power play.

The Islanders will not have Casey Cizikas or Tom Kuhnhackl for the remainder of the playoffs. Kuhnhackl has left the bubble in Edmonton and a further update will be given once the Islanders are out of the playoffs. Cizikas apparently has an upper-body injury that will require surgery, ending his season. He has also left the bubble.

Point, who missed Game 3 with an undisclosed injury, looked to be in some discomfort on the bench in the third period and did not play in the final minutes. He still has a couple of days to recover with Game 5 on Tuesday.

NIGHTLY LEADERS

Goals

Brock Nelson – 1

Blake Coleman -1

Ondrej Palat – 1

Brayden Point – 1

Pat Maroon - 1

Assists

Yanni Gourde – 2

Nikita Kucherov - 2

Shots on Goal

Ondrej Palat – 5

Brayden Point – 5

Victor Hedman - 4

Ryan Pulock - 4

Hits

Cedric Paquette – 7

Luke Schenn – 6

Matt Martin – 6

Adam Pelech - 6

Cal Clutterbuck – 5

Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 5

Kevin Shattenkirk - 5

Penalty Minutes

2 by many