Uniondale, NY- Tampa Bay’s magic appears in short supply. Jon Cooper’s squad underperformed in October and left plenty of wins unclaimed. The October struggles carried to November 1st, when the Lightning completed their three game New York trip. The Rangers and Devils provided tough challenges, but neither compared to the New York Islanders, who entered on a seven game winning streak and aiming for eight. With a rowdy crowd backing them at the Nassau Coliseum, Tampa didn’t have the answers for a smart, strong, and tough Isles squad.
Surprisingly, the opening period was quiet. Each team had only five shots on net, no one scored, and it flew off the clock. The only major spike in crowd reaction was a fight between Luke Witkowski and Ross Johnston that seemingly sparked out of the blue.
The second was far more action packed. Tampa won the shot battle 16-13, but trailed thanks to the unstoppable talent of Matt Barzal and a cannon from Ryan Pullock. Yanni Gourde ate up Thomas Greiss between the Islander goals, but Tampa still trailed entering the third.
New York’s offense overwhelmed the Bolts in the finale. Josh Bailey and Anders Lee scored goals with the help of unfortunate bounces in the Tampa defensive end. Bailey’s hit Ryan McDonough’s back in the middle of a harmless dump in and Lee’s snuck through the back of Vasilevskiy’s pads. McDonough partly made up for the terrible bounce with a goal in the dying minutes. However, Derick Brassard ended the night at 5-2 for the Isles. The rabid fans at Nassau chanted “Eight Straight!” reminding the Lightning that they were New York’s eighth straight victim.
Greiss stopped 33 of 35 Lightning shots. Brassard, Bailey, and Barzal all had two point games. Lee posted a goal and two assists.
With the win, New York improves to 9-3-0 for 18 points. They trail Carolina by one point and Washington by five points in the Metropolitan Division Standings. The Islanders also have one and three games on the Hurricanes and Capitals respectively.
The Islanders play the second half of a back-to-back on the road on Saturday night in Buffalo. Puck drop against the Sabers at the KeyBank Center at 7 pm ET.
Tampa’s record drops to 6-5-2. They sit two spots from the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Tampa remained optimistic about their play and talent.
“I think we had some good chances in zone,” observed Alex Killorn. “We were getting a lot of opportunities off. A lot of D shots. It wasn’t some one-and-done chances.”
Jon Cooper echoed that sentiment. “I didn’t mind our game. Guys are trying. Give the Islanders credit, they’re a good defensive club. It was tough going into the third period down. I thought we deserved a better fate than that.”
The Lightning outshot New York 35-26. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 of those 26 NYI shots.
Victor Hedman and Patrick Maroon both missed their second consecutive game.
Tampa now gets a much needed breather after a 1-2-0 trip to the New York City area. The Lightning do not play until Friday, the 8th, as part of a two-game NHL Global Series against the Buffalo Sabres in Stockholm, Sweeden. Puck drops at the Ericsson Globe at 7 pm CET (2 pm ET) on Friday and at 6 pm CET (1 pm ET) on Saturday.