TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Experience is an invaluable ally in the Stanley Cup playoffs. There’s little the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning hasn’t encountered during deep postseason runs five of the past seven years.
The New York Islanders haven’t achieved as much but have progressed enough in three seasons under Barry Trotz to not feel like heavy underdogs in the Stanley Cup semifinals.
The opener in a best-of-7 rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference final is Sunday.
Last year's matchup was played in the NHL bubble in Edmonton, Alberta, and won by Tampa Bay in six games.