Just one night after playing arguably their most complete game of the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t duplicate that effort against the New York Islanders.
The Isles got goals from five different players, including four unanswered after falling behind 1-0, as they defeated the Bolts 5-2 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It was the Islanders’ 6th win in their last 7 games against Tampa Bay at home, and it happened just three days after the Lightning had beaten New York by the same score at Amalie Arena. The Bolts fell to 13-5-2 on the season, and 1-1 on their three-game road trip.
It wasn’t the return to Long Island that Lightning backup goalie Evgeni Nabokov envisioned, as he was saddled with the loss after stopping 31 of 36 shots in his first game against the team he suited up with for three seasons. However, if not for some stellar work in the first period from Nabokov, the final score might have been worse.
Tampa Bay had to kill off a two-man advantage for 1:07 in the first period, which was followed by Alex Killorn scoring his 4th goal of the season and his second in as many games, putting the Lightning up 1-0. Nabokov had to make a few big saves to keep the Bolts in it during the first period, as the Islanders held a 12-9 shot advantage despite trailing 1-0 at the first intermission.
However, the momentum of the game would shift just 39 seconds into the second period during a Lightning power play, as Cal Clutterbuck took advantage of a rare mistake by Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, intercepting his drop pass, skating down the right wing, and roofing a shot past Nabokov for the game-tying shorthanded goal. The floodgates opened up at that point, as the Islanders would add goals by Mikhail Grabovski and Ryan Strome to take a 3-1 lead into the 2nd intermission.
Just 36 seconds into the 3rd period, the Islanders would make it 4-1 on a power play goal by Brock Nelson. Although Ondrej Palat would pick up his 5th goal of the year less than two minutes later, the Isles would tack on an insurance goal by Casey Cizikas on a breakaway, giving them their 6th victory in their last seven games overall.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Although the Islanders had five different players find the back of the net, Cal Clutterbuck gets my nod for player of the game, as it was his shorthanded tally that tied it up at 1-1 and changed the momentum of the game. Clutterbuck finished with three shots on goal, and was a plus-1 on the evening for New York.
THE TURNING POINT
This goes back to Clutterbuck’s shorthanded goal. The Lightning led 1-0 going into the second period and had a power play when Anton Stralman, who has been rock solid for the Lightning this year, inexplicably turned the puck over at his own blueline to Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck’s tally was the spark that ignited the Islanders, as it was the first of four unanswered goals for New York.
IT WAS OVER WHEN….
Brock Nelson tipped in Lubomir Visnovski’s shot from the point past Nabokov, putting the Islanders up 4-1 just 36 seconds into the 3rd period, putting the game out of reach for the Lightning.
Call me crazy, but I have to give this to Evgeni Nabokov. He gave up all five goals, but he made several nice saves early on that kept the Lightning in the game. It was pretty obvious that the emotions from the previous night’s game against the Rangers, as well as playing on back-to-back nights, had taken its toll on the Bolts. Tampa Bay appeared to be a step slow and committed a few turnovers that ended up being costly. One could easily argue that if not for Nabokov’s efforts, the margin of defeat could have been much worse.
The Lightning finish off their three-game road trip in Toronto for a Thursday night matchup with the Maple Leafs. The puck drops at 7 pm. While the Lightning didn’t have their best showing against the Islanders, Bolts fans can take solace in the fact that their team didn’t fare as poorly as the Leafs, who got crushed at home by the Nashville Predators 9-2 last night.