The final score of Thursday's game against the New York Islanders was not completely indicative of the effort displayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, a lot actually went right for the Bolts.
After being outshot in each of its past two games, Tampa Bay bounced back to hold a 35-34 shot advantage over New York. The Lightning nearly matched the Islanders in blocked shots and received a stellar relief performance in goal from Mathieu Garon. In the end, they fell to the Islanders 5-1 at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night.
Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who are now winless in three-straight after allowing at least four goals in each of those defeats.
John Tavares scored twice and added two assists for the Islanders, who have now won back-to-back games since dropping the season-opener to the Florida Panthers last week. Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and PA Parenteau also had goals for New York.
With a record of 1-2-1, Tampa Bay - which visits Florida on Saturday to conclude a season-opening five-game road trip - is under the .500 mark for the first time under second-year coach Guy Boucher.
Entering the contest, neither team's superstar had yet to score a goal this season, but that changed rather quickly.
Stamkos' first of the season at 7:10 beat Al Montoya and erased an early one-goal deficit after Tavares opened the scoring just 36 seconds following the opening puck drop.
A 34-save effort by Montoya, as well as the fast start sparked by Tavares, seemed to set the tone for the Islanders throughout the remainder of the game. Untimely turnovers by Tampa Bay in its own zone and a series of unlucky bounces proved costly.
New York scored three consecutive goals, all in the first period on the heels of Tavares' opening tally, which put the game out of reach well before the start of the second period.
Moulson quickly restored New York's lead as he beat Dwayne Roloson at 9:24 of the first. With the teams at even strength, Mark Eaton ripped a shot from the point that went off the goal post. Tavares whacked at the rebound before the puck trickled out in front, where Moulson put it home to make it 2-1.
Things didn't improve as the game went on.
Tavares cashed in his second of the night with less than five minutes to go in the opening frame. Moulson got the play started when he threw one towards the net from the left circle. The puck hit Roloson's skate and landed right on the stick of Tavares in front of the goalmouth, where he quickly tapped it home.
Parenteau, who earned a secondary assist on Tavares' last goal, then found the back of the net himself at 18:39 to put New York up by three after Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman was stripped of the puck at the top of the crease.
"It was important for us to get back to our game after that," Lightning assistant coach Martin Raymond said. "We had a lot of trouble clearing the puck out of our zone."
Roloson's night came to an end midway through the second period after Grabner closed out the scoring with the Islanders' fifth goal of the night.
Grabner took advantage of a Brett Clark turnover at the blue line and finished off an odd-man rush with Kyle Okposo to make it 5-1 and prompt Lightning head coach Guy Boucher to make a switch in goal.
Roloson made 13 saves on 18 shots.
Although the Islanders' top line seemed to get into a rhythm as the night went on, it was still no match for Garon, who made a number of key stops to prevent the margin from widening.
"I wanted to turn the game around," Boucher told reporters following the game."I always believe it's never over. That was our trademark last year, always coming back. I believe we could have done something, but the rebounds are never popping right now. We've got a lot of things to take care of, and we will."