Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov now has two goals and four assists through two games of the Eastern Conference finals after he scored the game winner Wednesday in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Nikita Kucherov belted a lightning-quick one-timer with nine seconds remaining in regulation to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a dramatic Game 2 win over the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Lightning now lead the series 2-0 after the 2-1 win Wednesday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
"It doesn't matter who scores the goals," Kucherov told reporters. "We play and win as a team. We will take any goals at any time."
The Lightning need two wins to advance to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The winner of the Eastern Conference series will face Vegas Golden Knights or Dallas Stars in the NHL's best-of-seven title series.
Islanders left wing Matt Martin lit the lamp 84 seconds into the game for a 1-0 edge. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman tied the score with 1:35 remaining in the first frame.
Neither team scored in the second period or for most of the third frame before Kucherov connected for his game-winner.
Ryan McDonagh skated along the boards on the left side before he collected the puck deep in Islanders territory at the start of the final scoring sequence. The Lightning defenseman then fired a pass through a crowd of defenders to find Kucherov at the far post inside the right circle.
Kucherov used a fluid motion to smack an immediate slapshot on net before Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov could turn to defend the attempt. The puck sailed between the pipes to sound the horn and secure the dramatic triumph.
McDonagh "made a nice pass," Kucherov said. "All I had to do was hit the open net. It was a hell of a play by him."
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy had 27 saves in the win. Varlamov had 19 saves for the Islanders. The Islanders outshot the Lightning 28 to 21 in the loss. Lightning forward Brayden Point left the game for undisclosed reasons at 7:14 in the second period.
"We've lost some overtime games and lost in different ways that have punched us in the stomach," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "This one is a bit of a shock to the gut, but every time we have [lost this way] we have gotten up.
"We had our game [Wednesday], but just didn't get the result."
The Lightning battle the Islanders in Game 3 at 8 p.m. EDT Friday at Rogers Place.