The Tampa Bay Lightning will play the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
New York eliminated the Boston Bruins with a 6-2 win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round on Wednesday. The Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round.
Tampa Bay defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five games in the second round and the Florida Panthers in six games in the first round.
“But this is not the end goal,” Tampa Bay forward Brayden Point said. “There’s still so much work to be done. We can’t get too high here. We’ve got to have some have some good practice days and wait for our next opponent.”
Tampa Bay will have home-ice advantage against New York in the best-of-7 series. The semifinals schedule has not been announced.
The Lightning defeated the Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference Final last season before winning the Stanley Cup against the Dallas Stars.
“A big thing is experience,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ve been down this road, there’s a formula in place, and you need the players to execute. I’m proud of them and I’m proud of their effort.”
Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists). Steven Stamkos has scored 13 points (five goals, eight assists), Point (eight goals, four assists) and Alex Killorn (six goals, six assists) each has scored 12, and Victor Hedman has 11 assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy is 8-3 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our group,” Point said. “I thought we had a pretty good regular season where we were kind of building toward this. We got some guys back in our lineup that definitely helped. But it’s just the belief in our group. We’ve got four lines and all the [defensemen] and great goaltending, so we just feel confident.”
The Lightning (Discover Central Division) and Islanders (Mass Mutual East Division) did not play each other this season because of temporary realignment due to COVID-19.
Tampa Bay lost two of three games to New York last season. Stamkos scored three points (two goals, one assist), and Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist. Vasilevskiy was 1-1-0 with a 2.54 GAA and an .884 save percentage, and Curtis McElhinney allowed five goals on 24 shots in a 5-1 loss Dec. 9, 2019.
Josh Bailey (two goals, three assists) and Anders Lee (two goals, three assists) led the Islanders with five points against the Lightning last season. Mathew Barzal scored three points (one goal, two assists), and Brock Nelson scored two goals. Semyon Varlamov was 1-1-0 with a 1.52 GAA and .951 save percentage.
Tampa Bay advanced to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons and has won each of its three playoff series against New York.
The Montreal Canadiens will play the Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights in the other semifinal.
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report