Islanders Fall in Tampa as Stamkos Wins the Battle of No. 91s
The New York Islanders tried to battle back from adversity in their matchup against the Lightning as a pair of No. 91s faced off in Tampa Bay, but were ultimately denied two points at the hands of a former player. The fourth and final matchup between the Isles and Bolts featured a pair of goals from Steven Stamkos, but the Islanders continued to work hard on the road. Tampa Bay's prolific sniper padded his NHL-leading goal total by scoring his 51st and 52nd goals of the season at 15:49 of the first period and 1:46 of the second period respectively, but secondary scoring was present once again as Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo led an Islanders comeback after the road team fell behind 2-0. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
The New York power-play and Frans Nielsen got the team on the board a little under halfway into the second period and injected some extra life into the Isles. Kyle Okposo nearly tied the game moments later on a breakaway, but the Isles did not give up pressing the Lightning in their own zone. Despite not converting on his opportunity and getting shaken up in the process, Okposo came back a couple of shifts later and worked quite an impressive forecheck that ultimately led to his game-tying goal with less than one minute left to play in the second period. Josh Bailey's nifty pass to Okposo enabled the right winger to bury the puck behind former Islanders netminder Dwayne Roloson and New York went into the second intermission with their confidence high.
The start of the third period featured much of the same play from the Islanders as they picked up right where they left off in the second period. Persistence and traffic in front of the net enabled Matt Moulson to pot his team leading 33rd goal just 43 seconds into the final frame, but Tampa Bay eventually tied the game at the halfway mark of the third on Taylor Pyatt's 11th goal of the season. The Islanders kept Dwayne Roloson busy as they outshot the Lightning by a wide margin, but the veteran netminder made several key saves and was aided by the post a few times against John Tavares.
However, the turning point of the night came with a little under eight minutes left in the contest as former Islanders forward Tim Wallace buried his 3rd goal of the season and gave the Bolts a 4-3 lead. Wallace's goals have all came with the Lightning and his most recent one must have added a bit of insult to injury to Islanders fans as the forward was waived by Islanders earlier in the season and picked up by Tampa Bay.
Al Montoya did everything that he could to keep the Islanders in the game as he made a couple of good glove saves in the late stages of the third period, but the Isles couldn't find a way to tie up the game. Despite giving a great effort and outshooting the Bolts 37-26, the Islanders wound up on the losing side of things.
Al Montoya started the final game against the Bolts and his record against the team dropped to 2-2-0 for the 2011-2012 NHL season. The Isles' loss to the Bolts broke New York's modest two game winning streak, but the Isles have no time to sulk as they will travel across Florida to play the Panthers tomorrow night. With less than 24 hours to regroup before they play again, the Islanders will be tasked with quite a challenge when they face off against the Southeast Division leading Panthers. With two games in two days, Evgeni Nabokov will probably draw the start against the Panthers as the Isles continue their late season road trip against one of the more surprising and upstart teams in the Eastern Conference.
Steven Stamkos had a 3 point night while teammates Martin St. Louis and Teddy Purcell had 2 points a piece. Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson both had 2 point nights for the Isles as the forwards had a goal and an assist each.