The New York Islanders (1-1-0, 2 PTS) held off a furious comeback attempt to deal the Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0, 2 PTS) its first road loss of the season on Monday in a 4-3 victory.
The Bolts made a game of it late but could not make up for the myriad penalties incurred through the first two periods that helped New York build up a 4-0 lead.
After three unanswered goals by Martin St. Louis (3), Benoit Pouliot (1) and Steven Stamkos (1), the Lightning picked up two more ill-timed penalties at the end of the third that all but put the game away. The Islanders had seven power play attempts in the game.
For the second consecutive game, the Lightning picked up a penalty within the first minute of action, handicapping their lines from the outset.
The game’s intensity had picked up right from the start when two fights (nearly three) broke out before the puck dropped. Pierre Cedric-Labrie took on Joe Finley while BJ Crombeen battled with Matt Martin. Ryan Malone and Colin McDonald tried to get in on the action but were each sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Clearly, the teams carried over some bad blood from last year and settled things quickly.
Six players were in the box before the real action even began. After that, the first period, although chippy, went by innocently enough as the Lightning failed to capitalize on two power play chances.
The Lightning came undone a bit late in the second period after looking like it would escape down just 1-0. Following Michael Grabner’s power play goal (1) on the third consecutive penalty of the period, the tired Bolts allowed two more quick goals to Martin (1) and Kyle Okposo (1).
A soft goal by David Ullstrom (1) early in the third seemed to put the game away for the Islanders, looking to claim their first win of the season.
The Lightning proceeded to fight back to cut the game to a one-goal deficit before conceding their first loss of the season.
The Lightning defense struggled mightily, allowing two long stretch passes to become breakaway goals in the second, giving New York long stretches of attacking play and forcing Anders Lindback to play with a lot of pressure in just his second start of the season.
Lindback played okay given the circumstances, saving 40 of 44 Islanders attempts but allowing a soft goal that gave the Isles a 4-0 lead in the third.
Vincent Lecavalier, in his 1000th career game as a member of the Lightning, played poorly and came out with a -2.
On the other hand, St. Louis and rookie Cory Conacher continued their hot starts to the season, with each tallying two points in the game. Stamkos even put home his first goal of the shortened season, tallying two points himself.
However, poor defense combined with 26 penalty minutes did the Lightning in against New York.
In addition, they were out-shot 44-26.
This is what could have happened on Saturday if the Lightning broke during one of their several penalty kills against the Lightning. They deserved to lose and did despite a near comeback.
Tampa Bay needs to be disciplined quickly as they head to Carolina to face the revamped Hurricanes on Tuesday night in their first of eight back-to-backs on the year.
New York will try to carry their momentum into a five-game road trip that begins Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.