Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds left to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference final.
Leading scorer Brayden Point was injured late in the first period, and Tampa Bay also was without Alex Killorn much of the game after he was ejected for a hit from behind.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in Game 2. Varlamov made 19 saves. Tampa Bay is two wins from the Stanley Cup final, but Point’s injury after he fell awkwardly on his last shift of the first period is a major concern for a group already without captain Steven Stamkos.
WATCH | Kucherov’s late winner gives Lightning 2-game edge in series:
Two nights after Point scored 1:14 in, Matt Martin did the honours 1:24 in to give the Islanders the lead. A broken play helped defenceman Nick Leddy get behind the net, and he fed Martin for his fifth goal of the playoffs on a rare play in which Andrei Vasilevskiy lost sight of the puck.
Six minutes in, Killorn hit New York’s Brock Nelson into the glass from behind and was ejected and given a 5-minute major penalty for boarding. After dressing just 11 forwards to keep seven defencemen in the lineup, Lightning were put in a tough spot by Killorn’s absence that was made even worse when Point got injured.
They killed the penalty and got to the second intermission with the score tied after Victor Hedman scored off a faceoff with 1:35 left in the first period.
There were no goals throughout the second and most of the third until Kucherov scored his sixth of the post-season.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo recaps Tuesday in the NHL playoffs: