Johnson, Drouin lead Lightning to Game 2 win over Islanders
As promised, the Tampa Bay Lightning bounced back.
Tyler Johnson scored twice and Jonathan Drouin and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.
Ben Bishop made 19 saves for the Bolts. Nikolay Kulemin picked up the lone goal for New York while Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots in the loss.
The Lightning win evens the series at one game each. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
Here are three thoughts on Game 2:
Two is the luckiest number
Something about Game 2 seems to agree with the Bolts. Since the start of the 2014-15 postseason, they've played in six of them... and they've won them all. Five of those wins, including Saturday's, came on the heels of a Game 1 loss, the mark of a team that knows how to handle adversity.
The Bolts got off to a much better start in this one than in Game 1, converting the momentum gained from a pair of penalty kills into first-period goals by Johnson and Drouin. But even as they answered the call to play a smarter game and take better care of the puck, they struggled to generate much of an attack. The Lightning were limited to just six shots through the first 30 minutes, but by the time the third period rolled around, they'd adapted to New York's defense. They simplified their attack, getting pucks deep and winning the battles. It wasn't much on the style scale, but it earned them the split and sends them up to New York with a bit of confidence in their game.
The key: their best players were the best players on the ice. Johnson was at his waterbug best, darting and dashing through the offensive zone while creating some of his team's best opportunites. Hedman played a game-high 27:35, landed five shots on net and silenced Game 1 star John Tavares.
Bishop, who rebounded nicely after being pulled in Game 1, wasn't tested often but he was in total control when the Isles got a shot through. With the win, he moves to 9-2 in games following a postseason defeat.
The Lightning's patience with Drouin after his midseason meltdown continues to pay dividends. The 21-year-old winger delivered another exceptional effort in Game 2, making things happen with his stickhandling and slick passing to provide the spark that might otherwise have come from injured forward Steven Stamkos.
His goal was a reminder of how quickly he can alter the course of a game. He picked up a pass from Valtteri Filppula, blew by Kulemin and Travis Hamonic then beat Greiss with a nifty backhander through the five hole. Later, he grabbed a share of the team lead with his sixth assist of the postseason, setting up Hedman's second-period power play clincher. He now has seven points through the first seven games of the playoffs.
Even when he wasn't scoring, Drouin was still the most creative and entertaining Bolt and, along with Johnson, the most dangerous. He's still prone to the occasional blunder when it comes to his play without the puck though. He was burned on a blue line miscue that forced him to haul down Cal Clutterbuck, wasting half of a Lightning power play opportunity. But it's all part of the process for a player who's already made a large impact on this series.,
Neither game in Tampa delivered the kind of thrills we've seen elsewhere this round, but that's hardly surprising. There's not a lot of history between these two teams, and that lack of animosity dulled the edges a bit. That began to change late when the boys used a couple of post-whistle scrums to compare testosterone levels, hinting at a more passionate Game 3 ahead.
Still, it's clear that neither side has delivered their best game. The Lightning were better in this one in terms of their compete level, but they've yet to establish their north-south game. Their speed should give them an advantage over the Isles, but it hasn't happened with any consistency. And outside of the top two lines, they're not generating enough time on the attack.
New York got off to a lousy start in this one, slowed down by a couple of sluggish power plays. And when they did get their feet moving, they didn't do enough to test Bishop (according to War On Ice, the Isles didn't register a single high-danger scoring opportunity). That's hard to figure out. This game was played at a pace that should have kept them comfortable. Instead, there were 18 guys waiting on someone else to make something happen. Tavares lead the Isles with three shots but was never a threat. And the second line, so effective in the opener, was all but invisible.
Give Greiss credit though. After allowing two goals on the first four shots he faced, he was solid the rest of the way. The Isles have questions ahead of Game 3, but their goalkeeper isn't one of them.