Kucherov contributes 3 helpers as Lightning level series with Islanders

Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat delivered early goals and NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov had three more assists to help the Tampa Bay Lightning rebound from a series-opening loss and beat the New York Islanders 4-2 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup semifinals on Tuesday night.

Tampa's Point scores in 5th straight game, pushes playoff tally to league-leading 10

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, right, celebrates with teammate Brayden Point during a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning are running out of superlatives to describe the playmaking ability of NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov.

"He's remarkably gifted ... does everything with grace," coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday night after one of the league's most creative scorers had three more assists to help the defending Stanley Cup champions even the Stanley Cup semifinals with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2.

"He's just so smooth in the plays he makes, his vision and how he can see and make plays," Cooper added. "It almost looks effortless. ... I know it's not. He works at doing what he does extremely well. But he sure can make plays out of what looks like nothing. ... And, he is fun to watch."

Kucherov had his fourth game with three or more points this postseason, assisting on goals by Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman as the defending champions improved to 12-0 in games following a playoff loss since start of last year's title run.

WATCH | Kucherov sets up Palat to give Lightning the lead:

Kucherov leads Lightning past Islanders to tie series

3 months ago
NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov records 3 assists in Tampa Bay's 4-2 victory over New York in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. 0:56

Point scored a goal for the fifth straight game, hiking his league-leading playoff total to 10. Palat put Tampa Bay ahead for good with a second-period goal that replays showed was scored with the Lightning having too many men on the ice.

"It was missed, that's hockey," New York winger Matt Martin said. "It happens, and there's nothing we can do about it. Move on to the next game at home and focus on that."

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 26 shots for the Lightning, who entered Tuesday night facing a series deficit for the first time since dropping Game 1 of last year's Stanley Cup final against the Dallas Stars.

"We knew they were going to come with a good response," Islanders centre Brock Nelson said. "I thought we did a pretty good job out of the gates. But they were able to get a couple and get the lead and we weren't able to get it back."

Hedman and Jan Rutta scored in the third period against Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, who missed a portion of the opening period after a collision with Point a little over 13 minutes into the game.

WATCH | Goaltenders at forefront of NHL playoff picture:

Goalies are the front-runners for the Conn Smythe trophy

3 months ago
Playoffs are proving what most hockey fans already know, you need solid goaltending to win a Stanley Cup. 3:46

Nelson and Mathew Barzal scored unassisted goals for New York, which — despite the loss — will return home feeling good about itself heading into Game 3 Thursday night.

"We can be a lot better and we will be," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.

"I thought the first two periods we were pretty good for the most part. We knew a very good hockey team was going to have a desperate push," Trotz added. "Obviously the second goal hurt quite a bit because now if they get the third one there's a little bit more separation. And ... there were too many men on the ice. Seven guys. That was disappointing."

Point, pushed from behind by New York's Adam Pelech, barrelled into Varlamov at 6:50 of the first period. The Lightning star drew a penalty for interference on the goalie, and the Islanders wasted no time taking advantage of what Tampa Bay felt was a questionable call.

Nelson's goal from in front of the net tied it 1-1 just 20 seconds into the power play.

Ilya Sorokin replaced Varlamov for the remainder of the first period. He stopped all six shots he faced before Varlamov, who allowed four goals on 27 shots, returned.

WATCH | Islanders' Varlamov exits for remainder of 1st frame after collision:

Isles' Varlamov leaves game after collision with Lightning's Point

3 months ago
Tampa Bay forward Brayden Point is pushed by Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech. Point collides into Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov who is shaken up on the play. Varlamov would have to leave the game but would return for the start of the 2nd period. Point is given a penalty and the Lightning would go on to score on the resulting power-play. 1:33

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