Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.
Point helped Tampa Bay extend its lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series after he was unfit to play in a 5-3 loss in Game 3 on Friday.
“He has been our best player and he’s a huge part of our team, and every time he’s on the ice he’s playing great,” linemate Ondrej Palat said. “So we’re very happy he could play today and he was great.”
Point had an assist on Palat’s goal at 11: 54 of the second period, the second for Tampa Bay in 12 seconds to give it a 2-1 lead, then scored at 3: 33 of the third to make it 3-1.
Point did not play again after a hit by Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech with 9: 51 remaining but remained on the bench. Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not provide an update on Point’s status for Game 5, saying “let’s give it some [time] and circle back come game time in two days.”
Game 5 is in Edmonton, the hub city for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“We’re trying to manage him,” Cooper said. “Again, he was all over it. He was in on everything and setting up goals, scoring goals, and he’s a big part of our team. But we have to manage him. It’s the playoffs and these guys are playing hard, hard minutes. You watch the intensity of these games, and they just keep increasing with every game that’s played and every round that’s played, and it’s no different this series. It’s a tough series, and I’m sure guys on both teams are having to fight through things.”
The center practiced with the Lightning on Saturday after he may have been injured in the first period of Tampa Bay’s 2-1 win in Game 2 on Wednesday. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
Point, who scored five points (two goals, three assists) in an 8-2 win in Game 1 on Monday, lost his helmet after he fell awkwardly into the left-wing boards in the offensive zone with seven seconds remaining in the first period of Game 2. He was late returning to the bench at the start of the second period and played two shifts in the opening 5: 23 before going back to the locker room.
Point has 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 16 games to share the NHL postseason lead with teammate Nikita Kucherov (six goals, 19 assists in 17 games) and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche (nine goals, 16 assists in 15 games).
The Islanders announced before the game that center Casey Cizikas and forward Tom Kuhnhackl each sustained an injury, left the Edmonton bubble, and are out for the remainder of the playoffs.