TAMPA, Fla. – Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy notched his fourth career playoff shutout, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning rout the New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup semifinal series on Monday night.
The defending NHL champions improved to 13-0 in games following a postseason loss since launching their 2020 title run and will take a 3-2 series lead over the Islanders into Game 6 of their best-of-seven matchup Wednesday night in Uniondale, New York.
Stamkos ignited a three-goal opening period — the first against the Islanders all season — by scoring just 45 seconds into the game. His power-play goal at 5:42 of the second began another three-goal period that made it 6-0.
Alex Killorn finished with two goals, Brayden Point delivered his 13th of the playoffs, and postseason scoring leader Nikita Kucherov extended his career-best playoff points streak to eight games with three assists for Tampa Bay, which hasn’t lost consecutive playoff games since being swept by Columbus in the first round in 2019.
Point has scored a goal in eight straight games, the second-longest stretch within a single postseason in NHL history.
Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, stopped all 21 shots he faced for his third playoff shutout this year. The Vezina Trophy finalist also blanked Florida and Carolina in series-clinchers in the first two rounds.
Essentially taking up where the Lightning left off in a furious third-period rally that just fell short in a 3-2 loss in Game 4, Stamkos, Yanni Gourde and Killorn scored in the first 15:27 to make quick work of Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was replaced by Ilya Sorokin after yielding three goals on just 16 shots.
The Islanders held on to win Game 4, evening the series at two games apiece, when defenseman Ryan Pulock’s diving stop in the closing seconds prevented the Lightning from forcing overtime. But since using a three-goal period of its own to take command Saturday night, New York has been outscored 10-0 over the last four periods of the series.
Tampa Bay’s sparkling record in games following a playoff loss comes on the heels of being swept by Columbus in the first round two years ago. It’s the longest such streak in NHL history, and Vasilevskiy has been the goaltender in each of the victories. Kucherov has a team-leading 26 points (5 goals, 21 assists) in the 13 games.
Point, who leads the league with 13 goals this postseason, is the second player in NHL history to score a goal in at least eight consecutive playoff games in a single year. Reggie Leach had a 10-game goal streak for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.
The Lightning are 11-1 when scoring the first goal this postseason, 0-4 when they haven't.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports