Just when you thought the Stanley Cup playoffs could not get more exciting, the teams from Washington and Pittsburgh proved us wrong and in Tampa, the Lightning found their game and evened their series with the New York Islanders.
New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning
In Game 1, New York achieved its objective of taking the home ice advantage away from Tampa Bay by defeating the Lightning. In Game 2, Tampa Bay used its speed to its advantage to even the series at 1-1 with a 4-1 win over the Islanders.
Tyler Johnson scored twice and added an assist to lead Tampa Bay to the win.
“I thought we had a good team effort tonight,” Johnson said. “We came out hot and I think we even got better as the game went on. I thought everyone contributed and that was huge.”
Johnson opened the scoring 6:03 into the first period assisted by Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman.
Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin put his club in front by two goals at the 11:55 mark of the first period. It was the first career playoff goal for the 21-year-old forward and it would prove to be the game-winner for the Lightning. Valtteri Filppula garnered the assist.
Nikolay Kulemin closed the gap to 2-1 for New York on the power play at 15:15 of the first period with the assists going to Thomas Hickey and Alan Quine.
The Islanders outshot the Lightning 12-5 in the first period.
In the second period, Tampa Bay reeled off 14 shots at New York goaltender Thomas Greiss, who stopped all but one.
Hedman recorded his second point of the night with his first goal of the postseason at 11:59 of the second period. Johnson and Drouin combined to pick up the assists and Tampa Bay led 3-1 after two periods.
Johnson connected for his second of the game, and fourth of the playoffs, at 17:42 of the final frame giving Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead. Jason Garrison registered his fourth assist of the postseason.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 19 shots to record the victory.
“I’ve been really happy with how when the games progress, we’ve taken over,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of his team after it tied the series.
The teams will pack their equipment bags and head north to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
In a fast and furious third period, the Penguins needed a goal off Eric Fehr’s stick with 4:28 remaining in the third period to defeat the Capitals 2-1. The win evened the series at 1-1.
Pittsburgh was in control of this contest from the start. They poured 14 shots at Washington goaltender Braden Holtby in the opening period.
After the clubs played a scoreless first period, Carl Hagelin gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 7:08 into the second period with the lone assist going to Nick Bonino.
The Penguins held the Capitals to five shots in the opening frame.
While the clubs skated to a scoreless second period, it was more of the same in the shots on goal category. Pittsburgh repeated its 14 shots while allowing Washington just five shots again.
The Capitals broke through on the power play 4:08 into the third period to tie the score at 1-1. Marcus Johansson lit the lamp with a power play goal assisted by John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Just when it began to look as if the game was headed to overtime, Eric Fehr struck at 15:32 of the third period when he redirected Evgeni Malkin’s centering pass into the net to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. Chris Kunitz also assisted on the play.
“That was a huge goal,” Fehr said. “We weren’t happy letting them back in with their power play goal. We were just able to fight back and get the lead back. It’s difficult against a team like that. They had a lot of momentum in the third (period) and you could tell they were feeding off the crowd. Murray made some huge saves for us and gave us the chance to get back in it.”
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray withstood a barrage of shots from the Capitals after the Fehr goal to preserve the win. In all, the 21-year-old puck stopper turned aside 23 Washington shots.
Pittsburgh evened the series at 1-1 with Game 3 scheduled for the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Monday at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
Matt Murray is the first rookie goalie to win four of his first five career playoff starts since Michal Neuvirth did it for Washington in the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals versus the New York Rangers.
Sunday’s Stanley Cup Schedule:
Game 2 – Western Conference Second Round – St. Louis Blues vs Dallas Stars 3:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Dallas leads best-of-seven series 1-0.
Game 2 – Western Conference Second Round – Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). San Jose leads best-of-seven series 1-0.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.