Stanley Cup Recap: Hedman Leads Lightning to Eastern Conference Final

Victor Hedman scored two goals in Tampa Bay's 4-0 win over the New York Islanders in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Second Round Series (Photo:NHL.com)

On Mother’s Day, the Tampa Bay Lightning gave their moms the gift of advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs with a dominant performance over the New York Islanders that resembled Tampa Bay’s march to last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

New York Islander vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman scored two goals and goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 28 shots to lead the Lightning to a 4-0 Game 6 win over the Islanders at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay wins the best-of-seven series 4-2 and advances to the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final for the second consecutive season and fourth time overall (also 2015, 2011, 2004).

“You don’t move on without your best players being your best players,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the series-clinching victory. “He was a major factor in us winning today.”

“I would love to take the credit, but it’s all the guys on the ice,” Hedman said. “We did a lot of things (this series).”

The Lightning will await the winner of the series between Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals which Pittsburgh leads 3-2. The Penguins can close it out Tuesday night in Game 6 at Pittsburgh.

Hedman scored his first of the game with 6:11 remaining in the first period when he skated behind an Islander forward and stripped the puck off his stick. The puck slid off Hedman’s stick and the defender reached back for the disc, wheeled around and put a wrist shot over the glove hand of New York goaltender Thomas Greiss giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.

Brian Boyle, who may have enjoyed his coming out party as one of the League’s top defensive forwards during the series, increased the Lightning lead to 2-0 with 1:19 to play in the opening frame. Matt Carle carried the puck deep into the Islanders zone along the right wing boards. As he approached the net, Boyle came from the left wing boards, behind the net also, towards Carle. They were about five feet apart when Carle put the puck on Boyle’s stick. Boyle put the puck behind his body, wheeled around at the side of Greiss’ crease and put a wrist shot over the netminder’s glove hand high into the opposite corner of the net. Cedric Paquette got the play started when he passed the disc onto Carle’s stick.

The Lightning took the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Hedman contributed his second goal of the game 4:22 into the second period while on the power play. After moving the puck around the New York zone, Lightning rookie winger Jonathan Drouin skated into the left faceoff circle with the puck then sent a behind the back pass to Hedman at the point. The big blueliner wound up and sent a missile of a slap shot past Greiss giving Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead and the party began inside Amalie Arena.

Nikita Kucherov capped the scoring for Tampa Bay at 4:40 of the third period after Alex Killorn chipped the puck between both New York defensemen along the boards just outside of the Lightning zone. Kucherov swooped into the neutral zone, took control of the puck and went in on Greiss on a breakaway. Kucherov held the disc, waiting for the goaltender to make the first move which Greiss did by going down into the butterfly. That was all Kucherov needed. He put a wrist shot between Greiss’ pads effectively putting the game out of reach for New York.

Series Notes:

Kucherov’s goal was his ninth of the postseason, moving him one ahead of San Jose’s Joe Pavelski for the League lead in that category.

Hedman is the third defenseman in Tampa Bay history to score twice in a playoff game joining Paul Ranger (2006) and Pavel Kubina (2011).

Per Elias Sports Bureau, Hedman is the first defenseman to score twice in a series-clinching win since Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit) in the 2010 Conference Quarterfinal versus Phoenix.

Hedman posted eight points through five games in the Second Round (4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points), the most by a Tampa Bay defenseman in a playoff series.

Bishop improved his 2016 playoff record to 8-2 (1.89 goals against average, .938 save percentage, 2 shutouts).

Bishop recorded his 21st career playoff win tying Nikolai Khabibulin for most in Lightning history.

Bishop recorded his fifth career playoff shutout and fourth in a series-clinching win (also 2016 First Round, 2015 First Round, 2015 Conference Final).

Most series-clinching shutouts in NHL history: 5-Chris Osgood, 4-Jacques Plante, 4-Martin Brodeur, 4-Ben Bishop.

Monday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:

Game 6 – Western Conference Second Round Series – Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). St. Louis leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Game 6 – Western Conference Second Round Series – San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators (9:00 pm ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2). San Jose leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

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