TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning moved one step closer to their second straight championship, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final with a 1-0 Game 7 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night.
They’ll face the Montreal Canadiens, making their first appearance since winning the Cup in 1993, in a series that begins Monday night.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 18 shots he faced, as the Lightning clamped down defensively on the Islanders in the elimination game.
Tampa Bay scored the game’s only goal with a shorthanded tally at 1:49 of the second period. With forward Barclay Goodrow in the penalty box for cross-checking, Tampa Bay center Anthony Cirelli waited out three Islanders defending him against the boards to find a streaking Yanni Gourde coming from the bench. He snapped a quick shot that beat New York goalie Semyon Varlamov for the 1-0 lead with his fifth goal of the postseason.
The Lightning, beaten 3-2 in overtime of Game 6 on Wednesday, moved to 14-0 in the playoffs after a loss in the last two postseasons. This was the fourth straight series in which Vasilevskiy has pitched a shutout in the Lightning’s elimination game.
“We have great leaders in this group. After a loss, we take it personally,” Gourde said. “We want to jump right back in there after a loss. Our group has a ton of resiliency, and we showed that tonight.”
Tampa Bay dominated the first period in offensive zone time, leading the Islanders 22-10 in shot attempts, but was unable to break through in a scoreless first frame thanks to 15 saves from Varlamov.
The Islanders had a 20-16 shots advantage in the second period. Tampa Bay had a 31-18 shots advantage for the game.
Nikita Kucherov, who left Game 6 with an injury on his first shift, returned to the lineup for the Lightning. He leads the playoffs with 27 points in 18 games.
This was the Lightning’s first Game 7 since losing to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference finals in 2018. This is their third appearance in the Stanley Cup Final under coach Jon Cooper, losing to Chicago in 2015 before winning in the Edmonton bubble over the Dallas Stars last summer.
The loss means that New York’s Game 6 win was the final Islanders game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team moves to a new arena at Belmont Park next season.