TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves and New York Islanders Matthew Barzal and Ryan Pulak scored goals to beat defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals.
Varlamov won his fourth straight playoff debut, joining teammate Ilya Sorokin as only the third pair of goaltenders from the same team to have individual winning streaks of at least four games in a single postseason.
Sorokin scored four consecutive victories during New York’s first-round victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Varlamov won four games in the second round, including the final three, as the Islanders rallied to eliminate the Boston Bruins.
Barzal opened the scoring when he took a pass from Josh Bailey and skated just before defender Jan Rutta chased down the puck at 12:32 of the second period through Andrei Vasilevsky’s pads.
Pulak sent a shot to the Vezina Trophy finalist from inside the blue line for a two-goal lead at 5:36 of the third.
The Islanders helped themselves by staying out of the penalty box for most of the afternoon, limiting the Lightning to just two power-play opportunities – coming in with the final 1:38 and Tampa Bay’s only goal.
With Wasilewski on the bench, the Lightning who already had six skaters on the ice when New York’s Brock Nelson drew a penalty for high-sticking, 6-on-4 to come on board with Brayden Point’s ninth goal took advantage of 53 seconds to go.
Tuesday night’s best-of-seven series in Tampa is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, which the Lightning won in six games.
Most players, including Varlamov and Vasilevsky, are similar, and are all too familiar with Lightning New York coach Barry Trotz, who has faced him at this stage of the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.
Vasilevskiy blocked 29 of 31 shots.
The Islanders are the first team since the 1980 Philadelphia Flyers (Phil Myere, Pete Peters) to have two goaltenders to win at least four games in the same playoff year. The Bruins (Eddie Johnston, Gerry Cheevers) were the first team in 1972.
Teams taking a 1–0 lead in the conference finals/semifinals have an all-time series record of 127–55.
home ice benefits
The Lightning debuted a series at home for the first time since this season. Capacity at Amalie Arena was set at 14,800, up from 13,500 in the second round against Carolina. Starting on the road has hardly been a deterrent for the defending champions, who won games 1 and 2 away from home against the Hurricanes alongside the Florida Panthers.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)