If you haven’t played in a week, don’t tell Blitz to deviate from your game a little.
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, their first game since the Bruins dispatched on August 31, Tampa Bay scored a dominant 8-2 win over the Islanders.
The two biggest contributors to the one-sided victory of Lightning were none other than Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who appeared as the first and second players on the team this postseason. They each collected five points when they won.
Point scored his first of two goals of the night just a minute and 14 seconds into the game as he walked down the left wing and spun around Island defender Ryan Pulock before shooting a shot past Thomas Greiss.
“I could just sort of take care of the guy and get online,” he said. “(Blake) Coleman makes a great mid-game to be patient. Let me pace up a bit. It’s just nice to score early.”
With his opening marker, the Lightning striker extended his playoff points streak to seven games (the team only played 14 games).
“He sparked an outbreak there that was obviously badly needed for us, but every time you go in and get a head start this early in a game it’s uplifting for a team,” said head coach Jon Cooper.
“He’s so talented,” added Yanni Gourde, who also scored two goals in the game. “That goal was amazing. He’s such a talented player and his line was solid tonight too. I mean, it’s a great start to the game.”
Point added another goal in the second phase of the power play and backed up three more, including Nikita Kucherov’s record in the third phase, to put Tampa Bay in the lead by five goals.
In order not to be outdone by his linemate, Kucherov also assisted on four goals and set a new franchise record for the most assists in a playoff year. His 16 assists support that post-season eclipse of Martin St. Louis ’15 in 2004 – the year the Lightning won their only Stanley Cup to date.