Coming into Saturday night's game against the Islanders, the Lightning's mission was clear: a better effort, particularly at the start, than what they had put forth in their previous two games, losses to Chicago and San Jose respectively.
"Yeah, our big concentration was our start. Our last two games, our start wasn't where it needed to be and it rolled over. I thought we had a good start and that carried over to the rest of the game. That's a big win for us." - Lightning forward Ryan Callahan
A high-scoring, back-and-forth first period didn't really get rolling until 7:41 when Brock Nelson put the Islanders on the board with the team's first recorded shot on goal. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo were credited with assists.
Exactly one minute later, Ryan Callahan tied the game for the Lightning, getting help from Jason Garrison and Valtteri Filppula.
The Islanders pulled back ahead at 11:22 on a goal by Josh Bailey from Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy.
The Bolts tied the game again at 13:46 on a power play goal from Filppula with Steven Stamkos and Garrision pitching in with assists.
The Lightning took the lead for the first... and last time at 15:29, with Cedric Paquette scoring his fifth goal of the season. Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn provided assistance.
The Lightning led 3-2 at the end of the period, holding a slight edge in shots taken with 13 to New York's 11.
Things settled down considerably after that.
"At the beginning of the game, there were some chances going back and forth, a little bit of pond hockey was being played. But once we got back into our systems, just started to relax and play our game, not really focus on too many things, I thought that helped us out a lot. As the game went on we relied on our system and it paid dividends for us." - Lightning forward Tyler Johnson
The Lightning padded the lead at the 1:39 mark of the second, when Tyler Johnson scored on assists from Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. It would be the only goal scored by either side in the period and Tampa Bay was up 4-2 entering the third.
Shortly after halfway through the third period, it looked like the Islanders, playing the second game of in-state back-to-backs after an overtime win against the Panthers last night, started to look tired. A too many men on the ice call against Tampa Bay at 12:22 resulted in a basically toothless power play for the Islanders, their last real chance to get back into the game.
Shortly after successfully killing that off, Radko Gudas capped off the scoring for the Lightning with a snap shot taken from just inside the blue line at 15:34. Callahan collected the lone assist on the play.
"First of all, that's a really good team we played... I don't know if we got their best shot or not, but our goal is to come in here and win and get points... you have to take advantage of tired teams." - Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
The Lightning will now head out to the road for three games and will be in action again on Monday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.
- This is the first of two meetings between the Islanders and Lightning this season.
- The loss ends a five-game winning streak for New York.
- All three matchups between the two teams last season ended in shootouts with the Lightning winning two of them.
- The Lightning entered tonight's game as the top-scoring team in the NHL with 60 goals.
- Stamkos is six goals short of the 250 threshold.
- Kucherov has tallied 13 points (six goals, seven assists) over his last 11 games.
- Ben Bishop started in goal and stopped 25 of 27 shots faced on the night.
- The Lightning power play was 1-4 and the penalty kill was a perfect 5-5.
- Jonathan Drouin was a healthy scratch.
- Filppula and Palat shared the assistant captain duties for the Lightning tonight.
- The Lightning honored Peter Clark as the 10th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the second period of tonight's game. Clark, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Tampa Bay Watch. Clark's care for the environment of Tampa Bay led him to create a non-profit organization, Tampa Bay Watch in 1993 with the purpose of reversing the continuing loss of critical marine habitat in the Bay Area. He has since led countless hands-on restoration projects covering hundreds of acres of critical bay habitat and has educated over 40,000 youth through his environmental programs. Clark's efforts have led to both a cleaner bay and economic stimulation for the Tampa Bay community. In addition, to being named tonight's Lightning Community Hero, Clark has recently been awarded the T. Terrell Sessums Award for Environmental Stewardship (2013), and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Future of the Region Award (2014) for his meaningful contributions to the Tampa Bay community.