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With Game 4 victory Lightning flex their power over Islanders.

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on September 14, 2020 with No Comments

When you add one of the most productive players in the post-season to a deep, confident and supremely talented Stanley Cup favourite, the result is predictable.

And, now, so is the Eastern Conference Final’s inevitable conclusion after the Tampa Bay Lightning rode the return of Brayden Point to a 4-1 victory and a 3-1 series lead Sunday afternoon at Rogers Place.

Point, who missed most of Game 2 and all of Game 3 with a leg or hip issue, didn’t play all of Game 4, just long enough to stick a couple of daggers in an Islanders team that’s now one loss away from bleeding out.

Point assisted on the 2-1 goal and scored the 3-1 goal, then tweaked his injury midway through the third period and shut it down for the rest of the night.

“Pointer, I’d go as far as to say he’s the most dangerous guy in the playoffs this year,” said Lighting winger Blake Coleman. “He’s a special talent. He tilts the ice every time he’s out there.

When you add one of the most productive players in the post-season to a deep, confident and supremely talented Stanley Cup favourite, the result is predictable.

“Anytime you have a guy like that in your lineup you have a better chance of winning hockey games. It’s huge to have a guy like that back and I think it really elevated everyone else’s game as well.”

With the game in hand and Point’s leg giving him trouble after being rubbed out by Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech, the Lightning coach Jon Cooper pulled him from the equation.

Cooper would rather publish his banking information than provide an injury update on a key ingredient this deep in the playoffs, but Point’s impact on the team is certainly no secret.

“He was all over it,” said Cooper. “He was in on everything, setting up goals, scoring goals, he’s a big part of his team. We have to manage him.

“It’s the playoffs, these guys are paying hard, hard minutes. The intensity is increasing with every game that’s played. It’s a tough series. I’m sure guys on both teams are having to fight through things.”

It wasn’t just the Brayden Point show, though. Not by a long shot. The Lightning flexed their muscle all across the board, limiting New York’s brief uprising to one game.

The Lightning haven’t lost two in a row all playoffs and that run was never really in danger in Game 4.

“I think we’re confident in our group,” said Tampa centre Yanni Gourde. “We have a ton of depth in this organization and we trust it. We have confidence in every one of us. We just need to play our game, stay focused and do what makes us successful.”

That’s how they roll. With impact players like Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, surrounded by an army of high-end talent that knows how to elevate their game when it matters, the Lightning have been too much for anyone to handle so far. They took Columbus down in five, Boston down in five and are threatening to dispatch the Islanders just as quickly.

 

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