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Islanders positives after Game 2 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 15: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Semifinals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 15, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 15: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Semifinals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 15, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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It was a strong effort from the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2. As we all expected. After a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1, the reigning Stanley Cup champions weren’t going to lay an egg a second time in a row.

The Lightning won this game 4-2 after a few pieces of individual brilliance – Kucherov’s assist on the opener and Vasilevskiy’s robbery on Palmieri – and took advantage of some Islanders mistakes.

A 4-2 loss may not look great, but there’s a lot of positives to consider as this series heads to the Nassau Coliseum.

Positives from New York Islanders Game 2 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning

Mathew Barzal

Every team needs their star player to be exactly that. Mathew Barzal has been the start player we know he is of late. With another goal in Game 2, Barzal has goals in back-to-back games and five over his last six playoffs games.

Having Barzal at his best is exactly what the islanders need to push through a team of Tampa’s quality. Assuming the rest of the Islanders depth continues to play well.

Semyon Varlamov Comes Back

After a huge collision with Brayden Point in the first period, Semyon Varlamov went to the dressing room and didn’t return until the second period. We’d have no idea in what state he was in when he returned.

He stopped 13 of the next 16 shots he faced which may not sound great, but it’s hard to blame any of those goals on Varlamov. Even that Jan Rutta blast was perfectly placed outside of Varly’s reach.

Seeing Varlamov come back and play well had all of us breathe a sigh of relief.

Power Play Scores

Look, I know the power play didn’t look great at times against Tampa in Game 2, but they still scored on the man advantage. Going 1/4 (or 25%) on the night is something we should be happy about for the Islanders.

Not to mention that PPG came on what can only be described as a gift by the officials.

Going 3/4 on the man advantage as they did in Game 5 against the Boston Bruins is very much an anomaly for the Isles power play. Going 25% on the night is good for the Islanders who were effective 18.8% of the time during the regular season.

Split

Again, losing is never a good thing, but leaving Tampa with two wins was unlikely. Getting a split is perfectly acceptable, if not desirable. Again, getting two wins would be great, but let’s be honest with ourselves, expecting two road wins against the defending Stanley Cup Champion is a tall task.

Remember, a split is how the Islanders started their first two series wins against the Penguins and Bruins. They won both of those series.

Taking a win on the road takes a big advantage away from the Lightning who held a two-game home-ice advantage to open the series on account of their better regular-season record. Going back to Nassau with a split is a big positive for the Isles.

Home Ice

Now the series shifts to Nassau where a near full-capacity Coliseum will attempt to power the Islanders to two-straight wins.

The Islanders have been great on home ice with a 4-2 record in the postseason thanks to that vocal and powerful home crowd. Remember, Tampa hasn’t played in front of a crowd like the Coliseum faithful in a while now.

Say what you will about the Amalie Arena, but it was basically silent when compared to the raucous and tireless Nassau crowd. We know the Islanders are used to and even feed off of the energy from the ~13,000 in the stands at 1255 Hempstead.

It’s been nearly 30 years since the Coliseum got to host a third-round playoff matchup, you better believe it’s going to be a madhouse.

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