Playing without a few more injured regulars, the Lightning finished the game strong after getting a jump on the Islanders early. Their third period while holding the 3-1 lead was an impressive showing and contrasted with the Isles' lax protection of their own lead in Game 1.
The Isles were sloppy in the opening, long enough to waste two power plays and fall behind 2-0. They were better in the second half of the first period and through much of the second, but after a fortunate bounce restored Tampa's two-goal lead, the Isles didn't really threaten to make it a game again.
The third period was marked less by any Isles comeback effort than by escalating physical play and post-whistle nastiness from both sides, just another sign that this will be a long series.
With the Lightning handling several additional injuries (Matt Carle being the latest) from Game 1, they dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with new lineup entrants Mat Taormina and Slater Koekkoek picking up just a handful of shifts.
The Islanders dressed the same lineup as Game 1, though that may change for Game 3 if Ryan Pulock is read on Tuesday.
First Period: Afternoon Nap
The Isles outshot Tampa 12-5 and doubled them in even strength attempts in the first, but that did not reflect the run of play. Scoring chances were conservatively tallied at 9-6 for the Isles. Tampa's chances were prime; New York had several harmless ones from outside.
You had to expect the Lightning to come out with energy, facing a 1-0 series deficit, but the Islanders were downright careless with the puck to open the game.
They were gifted with two early power plays, but rather than do anything with them they succumbed to the Lightning's aggressive penalty kill. The Lightning were already in desperation gear; the Islanders were in a mode where they didn't appear to try their power play so early.
Instead, each wasted power play was followed by a Lightning even strength goal.
The first came seconds after Travis Hamonic helped them dodge a bullet by stripping a Lightning forward on what would've been a breakaway opportunity.
But later Hamonic made an unwise pass to Nick Leddy in the neutral zone, which caused Leddy and Cal Clutterbuck to collide and take themselves out of the play. Matt Martin was slow to get back and John Tavares, who'd just come on for Casey Cizikas, didn't read the impending disaster in time. So the Lightning had a three-on-one, with Martin and Tavares each behind their checks. Tyler Johnson took the pass from Ondrej Palat and made a nifty backhand move past Thomas Greiss.
Then after the second power play, the Isles were disorganized on a line change as the Lightning cruised through the neutral zone. Valtteri Filppula, who just missed an early chance that should have been a wakeup call to the Isles, fed Jonathan Drouin in stride as he cut through the slot. Greiss would surely like to have this one back, as his five hole opened and his stick blade crept just enough to allow Drouin's low shot in through the legs.
It was 2-0 before the game was 12 minutes old, and the Isles hadn't woken up yet.
With the Isles still doing a bit of running around, Drouin nearly made it 3-1 when he was set up with another of the Lightning's trademark cross-zone passes. Thankfully with Greiss desperately sprawling, Drouin missed the net.
But a third power play worked out better, thanks to the second unit. With the power play's first extended zone time of the three opportunities, Thomas Hickey faked a shot from the blueline, then sent it through for Nikolay Kulemin to deflect downward and past Bishop.
The Islanders finished the period with great pressure, able to switch two lines while keeping the puck in the Lightning zone. But the fatigued Lightning defenders were able to keep the chances to the outside, and in fact Travis Hamonic undermined things with a soft but penalized crosscheck just as time expired.
Second Period: A Bounce
That put the Lightning on the power play to start the second period, a nice bonus for surviving the end of the first. But 69 seconds into the second the power play ended when Drouin tripped Cal Clutterbuck to put them at four-on-four.
The Isles' abbreviated power play that followed was better, and they carried that over to more zone time as the teams returned to even strength. But Marek Zidlicky wasn't cheeky enough in stepping in front of Alex Killorn in the neutral zone, and he was whistled for interference.
A likewise aggressive Isles penalty kill ended that one, but after more good Isles pressure the Lightning got another chance. Cal Clutterbuck drove the net at the side of, and (with the help of a push by Brian Boyle) into, Bishop to fetch a goalie interference call. This time the PK didn't escape, though they were undone by a fluke: Victor Hedman's point shot was going well wide, but as Calvin de Haan jumped to avoid it the puck bounced off his skate and right into the net.
It was a tough break to make it 3-1 at 11:59, as the Isles were otherwise controlling play in the period.
Things were a bit slower the rest of the way. The Isles had a late power play when Alex Killorn elbowed John Tavares on a rush to the net, but that one was canceled out when Frans Nielsen got a hand on Ryan Callahan as the Lightning forward pursued a clear.
So the period ended with the Lightning having outshot the Isles 14-5, but like the first period, that disparity didn't reflect the quality of play. Several Lightning shots were easy catches for Greiss.
Third Period: No Response, But Shenanigans
The third period did not bring the pushback you would hope from the Islanders in this situation. After the Killorn-Nielsen four-on-four and abridged Lightning power play expired, Tampa had the better of play by far. Greiss, who was strong all game after his one mis-step on Drouin's goal, kept the Isles within shouting distance.
But the Isles never mounted much. The Lightning did well to cycle the puck and burn clock in the Isles zone.
There were several skirmishes after the whistle, however, as both teams started to establish hostilities for the series. Johnson slashed Nick Leddy's stick out of his hands, then stood in the crease while acting to the refs like he couldn't get out. Leddy gave him a crosscheck and planted him on the ice, then Hamonic stepped in to crosscheck him after he retaliated at Leddy.
No penalties called on that scrum, but there were at the next one when Jonathan Marchessault and Ryan Strome drew the coincidental short straws for full-team shenanigans around the Isles net. The Lightning used that four-on-four stretch to set up shop in the Isles zone for virtually the whole two minutes after Hamonic broke his stick.
Johnson finished scoring with an empty net goal shot from the corner of the Lightning zone.
More fun finished out the final minutes after Johnson's empty netter. That included a penalized Matt Martin hit to the numbers of Braydon Coburn, general jawing that got Marchessault and Clutterbuck each sent to the showers, and a low-bridge interference hit by Thomas Hickey on Cedric Paquette that drew penalties from him and Killorn.
So the series has another two-day break before things shift to Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
There is no such thing as "momentum" between games, really, but the Lightning definitely grabbed the wheel back from the Isles with a convincing win and by avoiding the dreaded 2-0 hole at home.