By Dory LeBlanc
The last time the Lightning and Islanders faced eachother, Tampa Bay had to fight their way back to win in a shootout. This time around, it was the Isles that fought back to win 2-1 (SO).
Entering Thursday's contest, Martin St. Louis needed four assists to reach 600 in his career; unfortunately, St. Louis didn't get closer to the milestone. The Lightning captain did open the scoring, but left the ice briefly in the second period after getting hit by a puck. St. Louis returned to the bench a few minutes later with ice on his left wrist.
The Islanders had to go a man down just over five minutes in after Brian Strait was sent off for a delay of game penalty. 42 seconds later, St. Louis capitalized on the man-advantage to put the Bolts up 1-0 early. On the goal, he assisted by Vatteri Filppula and Tyler Johnson who picked up his ninth point in the past 12 games.
The score remained 1-0 with the Lightning also leading shots on goal until late in the second, when the Islanders finally eclipsed the Bolts in shots, and tied the game up with Victor Hedman serving his second high-sticking penalty of the game.
Tied at 1-1, neither team could light the lamp in the final 20 minutes of regulation, forcing the game to go into overtime for the second time in as many meetings.
With the scoreboard unchanged after the five minute OT period, flashbacks of December 17th in Long Island came to mind as the goalies skated back onto the ice for the shootout. Unfortunately, it wasn't the ending Bolts fans had wanted.
Jon Cooper opted to go with Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov, and Victor Hedman, while Isles' head coach Jack Capuano used Frans Nielsen, who scored the shootout winner and Thomas Vanek. Because the Lightning shot first, and Hedman missed, the Islanders only needed to use two shooters to clinch the win.
Shots On Goal:
NYI - 30
TB - 30
NYI - (1) Strait - Delay of Game, Okposo - Tripping; (2) McDonald - Fighting (Maj), MacDonald - Hooking; (3) None; (OT) None
TB - (1) Palat - Holding, Hedman - High Sticking; (2) Brewer - Fighting (Maj), Purcell - Interference, Hedman - High-Sticking; (3) None; (OT) None
Shootout Tally: N/A
NYI - Nielsen (GW), Vanek
TB - Filppula, Kucherov, Hedman
Three Stars of the Game: TBA
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay will host the San Jose Sharks this Saturday, January 19th at 2pm. Tune in to sister station 970 WFLA to hear Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin's call with coverage beginning at 1:30pm.