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Kucherov shines, Lightning beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2

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.

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

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.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a pad save on a shot by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Andrei Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, 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.

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.

Brock 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.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) tracks a shot by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Point, pushed from behind by New York’s Adam Pelech, barreled 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.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) celebrates with center Blake Coleman (20), left wing Ondrej Palat (18), and defenseman David Savard (58) after the team defeated the New York Islanders during Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

ON POINT

Point has 10 goals in 13 games this postseason after setting a Lightning franchise playoff record with 14 during last year’s Stanley Cup run. The 25-year-old center scored off a nifty no-look pass from Kucherov, who delivered the puck from behind the net. Kucherov’s three assists boosted his league-leading playoff point total to 21 after missing the entire regular season while recovering from hip surgery.

QUITE A PACE

New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) clears the puck away from Tampa Bay Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

Kucherov has 44 assists since the start of the 2020 playoffs. That’s the most in consecutive seasons by a NHL player since Doug Gilmore had 47 in 1993 and 1994.

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Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) reacts after getting into a fight with New York Islanders right wing Leo Komarov during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) makes a save on a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP PhotoChris O'Meara)