The Islanders and the Lightning haven’t faced each other since the final buzzer went off in Game 6 of the same series last September. COVID 19 protocols kept the Islanders from exacting any type of revenge on Tampa Bay...until this afternoon.

Barry Trotz and Jon Cooper knew there would be a “feeling out period” for each team and there was. From that point on, the Islanders dominated most of the game. New York’s forechecking game picked up right where it left off in Game 6 of the last series vs. the Bruins. The Islanders neutral zone defense was outstanding and kept the Lightning’s explosive offense out of their zone. The style of play was frustrating Tampa Bay and as the last seconds of the second period ticked off, the camera showed Victor Hedman of the Lightning slamming his stick on the ice.

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Islander goalie Semyon Varlomov was brilliant. He stopped 30 shots and the only goal he gave up was in the final minute of play with Tampa Bay skating 6 on 4. Defenseman Adam Pelech was fantastic, while fellow guardian Ryan Pulock fired home the Islanders second goal 10 feet inside the blueline to put New York up 2-0.

Mathew Barzal put the Islanders on the board with just over 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd period. New York’s offense looked sharp and matched the Lightning shot for shot. But it was Varlomov’s acrobatic act, save after save that was the difference in today’s game.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Tampa Bay. The Lightning are stacked with the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos and Brayden Point, who scored their only goal today. Their Head Coach Jon Cooper will them ready.

However, there is no doubt Islander Head Coach Barry Trotz will have his team ready to go up 2-0. It will be a fun one. Tune into The Drive with Charlie and Dan. We will have you covered for the series.

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