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UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JUNE 23: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal during the first overtime period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 23, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo : Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Islanders stayed alive in the Stanley Cup Semifinals after a heart-stopping 3-2 overtime win over reigning champions Tampa Bay in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series on Wednesday. Anthony Beauvillier scored the winning goal for the Islanders who now head to Tampa for the all-important Game 7 with the series all tied at three games apiece.
Lightning start strong as Point extends goal streak
All the momentum was with Tampa Bay heading into Game 6 after the Lightning destroyed the Islanders by eight goals in Game 5. The Lightning picked up right where they left off on Wednesday, opening the scoring at 16:02 of the first period. Once again, it was Brayden Point who was the goal-scorer, blasting a backhander from the left side off a rebound of a shot by Anthony Cirelli to give Tampa Bay the 1-0 lead.
Point has been on fire in this playoffs as he has now scored in each of his last nine playoff appearances. Point is now just one game shy of tying the NHL playoff record set by Philadelphia’s Reggie Leach, who scored in 10 consecutive games for the Flyers in 1976. He has now scored a league-best 14 goals in this postseason.
The Lightning doubled their advantage at 7:24 of the second period after Cirelli scored on a breakaway, hitting a shot between the legs of New York goalie Semyon Varlamov for his fourth goal of the postseason. It was Tampa Bay’s 12th straight goal in the series as the Islanders were stuck in a goal-scoring rut.
The Islanders finally got on the scoreboard at 14:22 of the second period with Jordan Eberle scoring on a backhand shot from the slot. That ended New York’s scoring drought which lasted 116 minutes and 23 seconds. That energized New York and the Islanders faithful as they now looked for the equalizer that will keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.
The Islanders started the third period strong, recording the first seven shots during that stretch. New York’s leveler finally came with 8:44 remaining in the game with Scott Mayfield’s shot going in off the crossbar and past Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Beauvillier the hero for New York
Beauvillier finally completed the comeback 1:08 into overtime, scoring a wrist shot from the right face-off circle after a costly turnover by Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman. It was Beauvillier’s first career overtime goal in the postseason, and his first score since the opening game of the second round series against the Boston Bruins. He has now scored five goals in this year’s playoffs.
The pressure now is on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7 after letting a wonderful opportunity to close the series slip in Game 6. Compounding the Lightning’s woes in Game 6 was the injury to star forward Nikita Kucherov. He left 2:22 into the game, 14 seconds after he jammed his right arm or shoulder while hitting Mathew Barzal. Kucherov went to the locker room at the stoppage in play as he struggled to finish his shift.
Kucherov has been a vital cog for Tampa Bay in this postseason, leading the NHL with 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) in 17 games in the playoffs thus far. This isn’t the first time, however, that Tampa Bay will be without Kucherov if he is indeed sidelined for Game 7 as he missed the entire 56-game regular season for the Lightning while recovering from hip surgery he had last December 29.
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