Another strong start once again ended with an unfavorable finish for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Martin St. Louis scored the Lightning’s only goal of the game to give his team a 1-0 first-period lead, but a five-goal rally paced the New York Islanders to a 5-1 victory Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Tampa Bay, playing for the third time in four days, has now lost five in a row to match its longest winless stretch of the season. New York, meanwhile, improved to 4-0-1 in its past five games.
New York held an early 5-1 shot advantage to start the game, but the Lightning grabbed an early goal to take the game’s first lead at 6:55 of the opening period.
Brett Clark got the play started after teeing up a pass from Steven Stamkos from the top of the left circle. St. Louis, standing to the right of the crease, tipped in the shot past Al Montoya for his ninth of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Stamkos extended a season-high point streak to eight games with an assist on the goal, which accounted for his Lightning teammate’s 800th career point.
Montoya made 23 saves.
John Tavares negated Tampa Bay’s fast start by erasing the one-goal deficit to draw the Islanders even at 14:01 and spark a rally that saw New York score five unanswered goals, including three in a span of 5:53 to close out the first period.
Tampa Bay has given up three unanswered goals in a single period in each of its past three games.
Tavares had five points in his last two games, including assists on three of Matt Moulson’s four goals in Dallas on Saturday, but the goal was his first since Nov. 5. Three of his nine goals this season have come against the Lightning.
Matt Martin, Milan Jurcina and David Ullstrom also had goals for New York, which won for just the first time at home in its last four tries.
Martin broke a 1-1 tie to give the Islanders their first lead of the game with just over a minute remaining in the period after firing a centering pass from Tim Wallace past Mathieu Garon at 18:26.
Jurcina then made it 3-1 with five seconds to go while on the power play.
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns,” Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. “We had a real good start, we had the lead, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it.”
Garon finished the night with 29 stops on 34 shots against, but came up with key saves down the stretch to keep the Lightning deficit at two going into the final 20 minutes.
With New York attacking down in Tampa Bay’s zone to start the third period, Garon made a terrific glove save to deny Martin from padding the lead. He then went left-to-right to glove a one-timer from well inside the left circle by PA Parenteau off a superb feed by Moulson.
Unlike many of the saves he made on the night, Garon had no chance at stopping Ullstrom’s first career NHL goal, which made it 4-1 just over three minutes into the final period.
“We tried to pressure them all night, but they have some guys on that team that can really handle the puck well,” forward Tom Pyatt said. “If you give them time, they can really do some damage on you.”
Moulson added insurance to cap the scoring while on the power play with over three minutes to go in regulation.
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