Victor Hedman scored his first NHL goal against the team that first overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft John Tavares plays on. Mike Smith got the shutout. And the team played better than it has in quite a while.
This was a team effort, not a star player effort. The goal scorers on the night were Hedman, Steve Downie, Jeff Halpern, and Ryan Malone. Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Andrej Meszaros each had two assists. And that is definitely a good mix of players doing very good things on the ice together.
A player that had a great night was Meszaros. He was all over the ice, doing everything that he could to help his team out. Not only did he have two assists, but he also had five shots on goal and two blocked shots on the night. The cracked pane of glass in this game was not caused by one of his shots, however, as the two previous cracked panes of glass had been.
The Islanders are actually ahead of the Lightning in the standings, so the Bolts didn't beat the Islanders of the past couple of years. They're a decent team - about on part with Tampa Bay right now. So this wasn't the case of the Lightning running over a pushover team.
The team still has its problems, of course. But this game the team looked far more organized then it has. The defense was standing people up more and challenging the other team's forwards, instead of collapsing and bunching up together. And they were clearing the defensive zone. They accomplished all the little things they needed to in order to prevent the Islanders from getting shots off.
Smith had a very good game. I've personally seen him play better, but he still did a good job. He was solid in net, and not shaky like he has been. He didn't give up a lot of rebounds and he was good about when he should and shouldn't handle the puck. Puck handling has been what's gotten him in trouble this season. He was communicating with his defense, like he should be. He did the stuff he needed to in order to be successful.
The forwards were a much more stable group. It really helps that they weren't being shuffled around like a deck of cards all night. The lines were a lot more consistent, and they played much better for it.
Lighthouse Hockey [New York Islanders SB Nation site}