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NHL@NHL play-off:New York Islanders–Tampa Bay Lightning [MECZ]

The Islanders won Game 6 of the Conference Finals on Monday 3-2 in OT. They fell behind early by two goals when Lightning players Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli scored in the first and second periods. The Islanders then got back on track when Jordan Eberle and Scott Mayfield tied the game up at two, sending it to overtime. Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders then scored in overtime to win the game
NHL@NHL play-off:New York Islanders–Tampa Bay Lightning
We knew we were going to bounce back,” Islanders player Anthony Beauvillier said to ESPN. “Even going down 2-0, I thought we were still on top of our game. We were having good shifts, and we just stuck with it. Obviously, a huge character win.”

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Here’s how to watch the game:

What: 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

When: Friday, June 25

Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Channel finder: Verizon Fios, AT&T TV, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum/Charter, Optimum/Altice, Cox, DIRECTV, Dish.

Live stream*: fuboTV (FREE TRIAL), Sling, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV (FREE TRIAL), YouTube TV (FREE TRIAL).

*Channel availability varies with the market. Check local listings for live streaming services.

The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t lost consecutive postseason games in over two years and haven’t faced a winner-take-all challenge since 2018.

That may speak to how difficult they’ve been to beat in the playoffs lately. Neither streak will mean anything when the defending Stanley Cup champions face the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the NHL semifinals on Friday night.

“You get to a Game 7, you know what’s at stake. You play all year to get to this point,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “You get one opportunity.”

The Lightning is 13-0 in games following a playoff loss since beginning of last year’s title run, including an 8-0 rout of the Islanders in Game 5.

The Islanders evened the series at three games apiece by overcoming a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 overtime victory on Wednesday.

And while Tampa Bay has been as resilient as any team the last two postseasons, coach Jon Cooper and his players aren’t taking anything for granted in their bid to become the first repeat champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

“I love the way our team has responded in the playoffs after losses. But you can’t hang your hat on that and say we haven’t lost in the playoffs in the last two years after a loss, or we’ve won every game in the last two years after a loss, so we’re going to win,” Cooper said. “That’s a faulty mindset.”

The Lightning ousted Florida in six games, then eliminated Carolina in five to reach the semifinals. They rebounded from losses in Games 1 and 4 to build a 3-2 lead over the Islanders, who are trying to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984.

Tampa Bay finds itself in a winner-take-all Game 7 for the first time since the 2018 Eastern Conference final, where they lost at home to the Trotz-led Washington Capitals.

“I think you’re going to have two focused teams, Game 7 with a chance to go to the Stanley Cup,” Trotz said.

“It doesn’t get much better than that for either organization, all the players and all the coaches. It just doesn’t,” he added. “There are things, when you’re growing up as a kid or a young coach, you dream of.”

As solid a track record Tampa Bay has compiled since being swept by Columbus in the first round of the playoffs two years go, the Lightning appear vulnerable due to an injury suffered by playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov early in Game 6.

Cooper said Thursday he did not have an update on the team’s best player.

Kucherov has a playoff-leading 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) in 17 games after missing the entire regular season while recovering from hip surgery. He had at least one point in each game of this series before being hurt during his first shift on Wednesday night.

“There’s no replacing Kuch. He’s had an unbelievable playoff for us. He’s so lethal out there offensively,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said.

Cooper wouldn’t speculate on whether Kucherov would be available for Game 7. He spoke in generalities when asked what he’d expect from other players if the Tampa Bay star doesn’t play on Friday night.

In the 13 games the Lightning have won following a playoff loss since the 2019 sweep, Kucherov leads the team with 26 points.

“Every team in the league will tell you, you lose players, you gain players, your lineup changes all the time. Is it ideal when you’re playing in the final four against the best teams in the league not to have your full lineup? No. But it opens doors for other guys,” Cooper said.

“This isn’t new for us. You move on,” the coach added. “And if you’re fortunate to win the game, it makes for one hell of a story.”

Anthony Beauvillier’s goal 1:08 into overtime capped New York’s comeback in Game 6.

While there’s no guarantee the momentum will carry over to Friday night, Trotz liked what he saw from his team.

“I saw resiliency. I saw determination. I saw what I’ve seen all year — a team that has backbone, has character, has all that,” Trotz said.

Cooper expects that from the Lightning, too.

“I can’t guarantee the result,” the Tampa Bay coach said. “But I know we’ll show up.”

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The New York Islanders entered the playoffs as the fourth and final playoff seed in the East Division. Now, they are a win away from reaching their first Stanley Cup Final since 1984. But to do so, they’ll have to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, last year’s champions, in a Game 7 on the road (NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).

To get here, the Islanders knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins in six games. They rallied in Game 6 to force Friday’s decisive game. The Lightning defeated the Florida Panthers (six games) and Carolina Hurricanes (five games).

Who will be playing for the Stanley Cup? USA TODAY Sports’ experts make their picks for who will win in what has become an unpredictable postseason.

Lightning 4, Islanders 2: Even with the health of star Nikita Kucherov up in the air, I cannot pick against the more talented team — and the one that will be playing at home. This series surprisingly has been more of a toss-up than I thought, with the Islanders holding a narrow edge in expected-goals for percentage, per Natural Stat Trick. I still like the chances of a team that can ride Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman and rely on Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. That is not to discount what Barry Trotz can do with this Islanders group. — Jimmy Hascup

Lightning 3, Islanders 1: This is the first time the Lightning have faced an elimination game since the 2019 playoffs, but I believe their championship pedigree and playing at home will make a difference, even if Nikita Kucherov can’t play. Anthony Cirelli fit in well on the top line after Kucherov went out and Brayden Point is on a nine-game goal streak. Vasilevskiy has been clutch. The key for the Islanders will be the coaching of Barry Trotz, who won a Game 7 in Tampa when he led the Washington Capitals to the 2018 title. — Mike Brehm

Lightning 3, Islanders 1: The health of Nikita Kucherov is a major concern, but I think the home team gets it done in Game 7 even if their leading scorer can’t go or is extremely compromised. In Game 5 in Tampa, the Lightning blitzed the Islanders 8-0 while outshooting them 42-21. That disparity certainly makes it seem like the Lightning figured out how to get favorable matchups in their home barn. Though I would expect a much stouter game from Barry Trotz’s Islanders than what they showed in their last trip to Tampa, I think the rest of the Lightning’s top-end talent will step up and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will shut the door. — Jace Evans

Islanders 3, Lightning 2: As much as an Islanders upset seems unlikely, I trust Barry Trotz’s track record. Tampa Bay isn’t typically a team that drops two games in a row, but Trotz took the 2018 Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup after beating the Lightning in back-to-back games. Tampa Bay still has one of the best rosters in the NHL, and Point is eying that 10-game scoring streak. But Trotz knows what it takes to get past the Lightning, and he has enough options in his own locker room to do it

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