NHL

New York Islanders take on Tampa Bay Lightning with trip to Cup Final on the line

The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to hit the ice Friday at 8:00 pm ET in Tampa Bay for game 7 of their league semi-final series. The winner will take on the Montreal Canadiens for a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Islanders come off big OT win in game 6.

After getting crushed in game five by a score of 8-0, the New York Islanders found themselves in a 2-0 hole in game six, facing elimination. Mathew Barzal assisted on a pair of goals to Jordan Eberle and Scott Mayfield before Anthony Beauvillier took advantage of a bad turnover in the Tampa Bay Lightning zone, and fired a shot past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in overtime to force game seven.

Like the Montreal Canadiens, the Islanders have overcome some difficult odds to get to this point. Matched up against two championship contending teams: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins in the first and second round respectively, the 12-seeded Islanders have been underdogs since the playoffs began. However after going down 2-1 in both of those series, they found a way to take three-straight games and end both of them in six.

It didn’t get any easier from there. Tampa Bay’s loaded roster has been a title favorite all season. The Islanders found themselves in 2-1 hole in this series as well but, after winning two of their last three, have put themselves in position to advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a win on Friday night.

Can the Lightning bounce back?

All was good in Tampa mid-way through game six. Coming off a pair of dominant series against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes in the first two rounds, the Lighting then went on to take a 3-2 lead over New York and a 2-0 lead in game six. The club had managed to score twelve (yes, 12) consecutive goals in the series, dating back to game four; they looked unstoppable. But as mentioned earlier, the Islanders rallied to score three-straight and stun the Lightning to force game seven. What was once a comfortable position to be in, now becomes ‘do-or-die’, just like that.

Players to watch

Forward Nikita Kucherov has been electric for the Lightning this postseason. He’s tallied 27 points in 17 games; seven more than the next best player in the NHL: his linemate Brayden Point. But Lightning fans anxiously await an announcement regarding Kucherov’s availability. The 28-year-old star was forced to leave game 6 with an undisclosed injury. His status for Friday’s game remains uncertain.

Barzal has led the way for New York offensively, recording 14 points through 18 games. Josh Bailey and Beauvillier aren’t far behind with 13 apiece.

Odds

Will the Islanders advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1984, or will the Lightning give themselves a chance to win back-to-back cups? ComeOn! Sportsbook has Tampa Bay at 1.57 to take game seven this evening, while the Islanders sit at 2.45.