The underdog had its day in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Can the Montreal Canadiens continue shocking the hockey world against the Vegas Golden Knights?
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Game 1: Montreal Canadiens at Vegas Golden Knights | 9 p.m.
The Cinderella Canadiens face their toughest test in the Golden Knights, who finished the regular season tied for the most points with the Colorado Avalanche (the same Avalanche team that they just eliminated quite handily in six games). Montreal enters this series as the best defensive team remaining in the playoffs, averaging 2.18 goals against per game.
But all eyes are on a reunion of sorts in this matchup: Max Pacioretty, the former Canadiens captain, facing his old team in the playoffs. "I don't think it makes any difference who you play in the playoffs," Pacioretty said Sunday. "You've just got to treat every game the same way. We had two emotional series, and I'm assuming this will be the same against a big, strong team that we haven't played yet." Full series preview
About last night
New York Islanders 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1 (Isles lead 1-0)
The Islanders couldn't have scripted that road game any better. They were physical from the start. They clogged passing lanes, and the Lightning players had little time to create chances. The Isles scored the first goal of the game in the second period courtesy of Mathew Barzal, and then added a critical second goal in the third period by Ryan Pulock. Semyon Varlamov (30 saves) was outstanding when he needed to be. Best of all? The "New York Saints" were at it again, getting the game's first three power plays before the Lightning had their first; this is a critical thing, considering Tampa Bay's dominance with the man advantage. (The Bolts' lone goal came on a 6-on-4 late in the game.)
"It's frustrating to lose. That's the frustrating part. But this is no different than the team that we beat in the bubble. We just made too many mistakes. The unforced errors. Managing the puck is a big thing against this team, and they managed it better than we did. And they got one extra break," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. Full recap
Three stars of the night
1. Semyon Varlamov, G, New York Islanders
Did the Islanders play well in front of him? Yes. Did they stay out of the box, so he only had to face the heralded Lightning power play once before the final two minutes of the game? Yes. But Varly's 30 saves were a solid, steady performance for the Islanders, putting his save percentage for the postseason at .930.
2. Mathew Barzal, F, New York Islanders
Off a superb pass from Josh Bailey, Barzal beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on a partial breakaway for his fourth goal of the postseason, giving the Isles a critical 1-0 lead in Game 1.
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning goalie made 29 saves against the Islanders, who had the majority of the high-danger chances in the game at 5-on-5.
Quote of the day
"Our work ethic was there. Our compete [level] was there. Our minds weren't there." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper
Turnover of the day
Mat Barzal gets the scoring going in the #StanleyCup Semifinals!— NHL (@NHL) June 13, 2021
🇺🇸: https://t.co/LcI8Hsqs1r @NHLonNBCSports
🇨🇦: https://t.co/0cXuacT6MQ @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/uYf9nvxLNi
Steven Stamkos sent the puck right over to Bailey to set up the Islanders' first goal. "We knew it was going to be tight. On the first goal, I was trying to make a play, and you see what can happen. They can go the other way and score," said Stamkos.
One-liner of the day
Mathew Barzal's got jokes 😂😂@AGrossNewsday pic.twitter.com/HpPZ5TVpUd— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 13, 2021
Barzal had a laugh with reporter Andrew Gross, who was sitting in the press box in the same arena Barzal was sitting in when he asked this question, with musical accompaniment.