The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Islanders 4-1 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.
It would be hard to ask for much more than what the Lightning offered against the Islanders in this one. No deficit to come back from, top line scoring, two power play goals, a perfect penalty kill (albeit, that’s easier to do when you only commit one penalty) and a spectacular effort from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, stopping 31 of 32 shots he faced.
Tampa Bay has demonstrated a degree of mastery over the Islanders so far this season. The Lightning beat them 6-1 in their previous meeting in New York on November 1st.
The Lightning got the initial tally when Steven Stamkos scored on the power play at 8:03 of the first. He was assisted by Tyler Johnson and Vladislav Namestnikov on the play. It was the 111th power play goal for Stamkos. He now trails Vincent Lecavalier by one for the franchise record.
The Lightning doubled their lead when Nikita Kucherov scored just under three minutes later at the 11:00 mark, getting help from Victor Hedman and Stamkos.
The opening period concluded with the Lightning up 2-0. They outshot the Islanders 10-9.
Tampa Bay would make it 3-0 at 2:50 of the second, again on the power play. This time it was Tyler Johnson scoring on assists from Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.
“We moved the puck well and created a lot of opportunities, and for us to rely on that and to know that we have that is huge for us. So you know you can’t lose momentum when you have a power play, you have to gain it.” - Victor Hedman
That would be the end for starting Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, as he was yanked after surrendering three goals on 16 shots. He was replaced by Thomas Greiss who would go on to allow one goal in 12 shots.
On the other end, Vasilevskiy came up with several highlight saves, maybe none better than when he held off a 4-on-1 breakaway at 7:45 of the second period.
“Vasy was outstanding. He made some huge saves. He was big with a couple breakaway saves. We know what we’re going to get from Vasy, and he’s going to make some huge saves with his athletic ability.” - Steven Stamkos
Unfortunately, his shutout bid was spoiled just about 20 seconds later when Andrew Ladd put the Islanders on the board, getting an assist from Johnny Boychuk.
If there was an area of the Lightning’s game that could draw valid criticism, it’s that they got a little sloppy with puck possession in the latter half of the second. They would face their first and only shorthanded situation at 16:41 when Hedman was whistled for tripping. They survived that and a pretty serious flurry from the Islanders in the remaining 1:19 after that before the intermission.
At that point, the Lightning were up 3-1 but had been outshot in the period 16-7.
Brian Boyle finished off the scoring when he scored at 1:08 of the third, thanks to an assist from Cedric Paquette.
“It kind of ultimately popped their balloon a little bit. It’s 3-1. It’s a game, plus they had momentum. We needed that buzzer to go in the second period and, as I said, it helped us being up two instead of just one and then you get that fourth one and it kind of sucked a little air out of their tires.” - head coach Jon Cooper
The Bolts adjusted and tightened up the possession problems they had in the second period, and were able to hold the puck in the Islanders zone for long stretches of time during the third.
The win improves the Lightning’s record on the season to 8-5-1, with a 5-1-1 mark at home.
The Lightning are in action again Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.