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Lightning Battle in Loss to Islanders

A good goaltender can hide a lot of a team’s deficiencies, but it can’t hide everything. Ben Bishop proved that on Saturday night, making 24 of 27 saves, as the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 4-2 to the New York Islanders.

Bishop played well, and the Lightning weren’t out of the game until Andrew MacDonald’s empty-net goal (3) with less than 15 seconds remaining sealed the win for New York. Tampa Bay kept putting themselves in a hole but were able to hang around.

Michael Grabner (12) scored the only goal in the first period, beating Bishop to the glove side after a Nate Thompson turnover in the defensive zone. Bishop probably could have made the save, but it would have been a pretty impressive save. It was certainly no travesty that the puck went by him.

Vincent Lecavalier’s no-look pass to Richard Panik (2) helped the Bolts beat Evgeni Nabokov and tie the game early in the second. Nabokov was good in the game, making 19 of 21 saves.

New York quickly took the lead back with Josh Bailey’s (7) goal that came courtesy of some great stick-handling and skating by Kyle Okposo, leaving Lightning defenders crumpled on the ice behind him.

Matt Carle (4) tied the game on a rebound 4:00 into the third, beating Nabokov as he searched desperately for his stick in the goal crease. It was Carle’s first goal in 22 games.

The Lightning proved kept things tied until Matt Martin (3) scored the game-winner through a Casey Cizikas screen at 13:34. Bishop never even saw the puck being shot and had no chance to stop it.

Despite the loss, which put Tampa Bay eight points behind the eighth-place Islanders with 11 games remaining, the Bolts didn’t look incompetent Saturday night, creating good chances against a quality team riding a hot streak into the playoffs.

Lightning Battle in Loss to Islanders
Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first period goal during the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 6, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders went on to win the game 4-2.
(Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The moves Tampa Bay made (bringing in coach Jon Cooper and Bishop) seem to have just been too late to save the team this season, but it is something good to build off of through the rest of the spring and into the summer and fall.

One thing’s for sure: there’s no quit in this team, and they’ll play it out until the end.

“We’re playing every game like it’s Game 7 of the playoffs,” defenseman Keith Aulie said. “We know what’s at stake, we know what the standings are, but we’re focusing and just taking it game by game.”

The Islanders will continue their playoff push when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, starting at 7 p.m. ET.

The Lightning will face off with the Washington Capitals, now the leaders of the Southeast Division, on Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET. Each team played on Saturday night, making for what will likely be a sloppy but hard-fought game.

A victory is all but a requirement for the Lightning to keep their playoff hopes alive. They currently sit six points behind the division-leading Capitals.

NOTES

  • The Lightning recalled defenseman Matt Taormina from Syracuse prior to Saturday’s game against the Islanders. Taormina, 26, has 21 points and 19 penalty minutes in 50 games for the Crunch this season.
  • Victor Hedman did not play Saturday night and is currently day to day with a lower body injury.
Taylor Gaines
Tampa Bay Lightning fan pursuing a career as a journalist at the University of Florida.
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