During a recent tough stretch in which it seemed the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t catch a break to reward them for their relentless effort offensively, Head Coach Guy Boucher continued to stay positive, knowing that things would soon turn around in the team’s favor.
Boucher was right. Just ask the New York Islanders, who have been the subjects of some tough luck themselves.
Dan Ellis made 34 saves and Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Brett Clark each had a goal as the Lightning snapped a five-game road losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Islanders Wednesday night.
It was the second win in the last eight for Tampa Bay, who entered the contest with just 13 goals in its previous seven.
“Everything was happening against us,” Boucher said. “Then later on, you get the same chances and do the same thing, and it goes in and you wonder what happened during that stretch. It’s hard to explain, but I knew we were going to get there.”
Clark scored on the power play and St. Louis tallied his third point of the night in the final period to extend his point streak to six games. He recorded an assist earlier in the game to earn his 700th career point.
“You want to play in this league and you hope to be fortunate enough to do it for a while,” St. Louis said. “I push myself every day to be the best I can be and you don’t necessarily set goals for yourself to get 500, 600 or 700 points, but to reach a milestone? It’s great.”
Matt Moulson and John Tavares had goals for the Islanders, who lost their 11th straight. New York won its last game back on Oct. 21 against the Lightning in the first meeting of the season between the two teams at the St. Pete Times Forum.
New York has led only once during the losing streak and has scored two goals or fewer in nine straight games. Dwayne Roloson started over franchise goalie Rick DiPietro for the sixth consecutive game and kept New York close by making 36 saves. He stopped 18 shots in the first period and 31 through two.
Stamkos opened scoring on the power play at 19:59 in the first after taking a rebound off the back boards and slipping a shot beneath Roloson just as the first horn sounded. The league’s leading scorer has 10 points during a six-game point streak, including six goals.
“We were just trying to get shots towards the net and it happened to go off the end boards,” Stamkos said. “I knew it was in before the horn, but it was nice to get that first goal though, so I’ll take it.”
St. Louis helped put Tampa Bay up 2-0 to open the second period and achieved a career milestone at the same time. With the Lightning on the power play, St. Louis fired a slap shot from the high slot that was deflected by Clark out in front and into the net, earning the Lightning forward the assist and the 700th point of his career.
“We wanted to establish our game and push pucks towards the net,” St. Louis added. “I think we did that.”
Despite allowing a pair of goals, Ellis credited his defense in front, which blocked 21 shots on the night.
“I think our defense did a really good job,” Ellis said. “We got into a lot of their shooting lanes, put some sticks on pucks, made some big plays out in front. That was huge for us.”
Moulson’s goal at 17:26 cut the deficit in half. The Islanders leading scorer took a backhand feed from behind the net and beat Ellis through the legs to close out the second period.
Tavares brought the Islanders to within one again with a goal that came just 21 seconds after St. Louis added his second of the night at 18:31 when he one-timed a slap shot beneath the cross bar.
Thompson added an empty-net goal with 15.5 seconds remaining in regulation to close out the contest.
“It was a good feeling for us and a great way to start the road trip, especially after having difficulty in the last few games,” Ellis said. “We played hard and ended up getting the win.”
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