Anders Lindback certainly played well enough to earn a win Thursday night.
But after three periods, that was all that was missing, as the Tampa Bay Lightning fell 2-0 to the New York Islanders in front of a 14th consecutive sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Lindback made 27 saves, some of which came at crucial times, to keep his team in the game despite being outshot by a clip of 29-18.
Once again, the Bolts had several quality scoring opportunities, including a late power play in the third period, but couldn’t capitalize.
“It’s the scoring chances,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “There were 17 chances that we passed on, and I don’t accept that. Shoot the puck, and that can create rebounds, chaos, and that’s where the goals come from. We didn’t want to shoot.”
It was the fourth straight home loss at the Times Forum for Tampa Bay, while the Islanders got back to .500 as they rebounded from a 6-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
John Tavares had a goal for the Islanders, while Brad Boyes also scored and added an assist.
Evgeni Nabokov recorded 18 saves in the win to earn his 54th career shutout.
It was the first time Tampa Bay had been held scoreless in a game since February 14 of last year in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.
“We had some good chances and some good looks, but we need more shots,” Bolts forward Ryan Malone said. “We needed to create more havoc in front of the goaltender, but we just didn’t get the job done.”
After a scoreless first period, Tavares opened the scoring while on the power play at 10:22 of the second.
With Alex Killorn in the box for slashing, Tavares, parked at the side of the net, took a feed from Matt Moulson and shoveled a backhand past Lindback to put the Islanders up 1-0.
It would be the only demerit on Lindback’s record for the night, as the second Islanders goal was deposited by Boyes into an empty net at 19:20 of the final period to cap the scoring.
“We had a pretty good night tonight,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “They had some chances, but I thought we did a really good job with our sticks tonight.”
Despite facing 11 more shots as his own team registered on the night, Lindback looked spectacular at times, including early in the third when he stretched out to deny Marty Reasoner on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush.
Nabokov, though, proved equal to the task at the other end, as he was bailed out by his teammates after the Lightning nearly tied the game at 1-1 following a chaotic scrum in the goal crease. He also stopped Victor Hedman from in close during the second period.
“I thought this was a good game,” Nabokov said. “Sometimes you get the results and sometimes you don’t, but today we got the result and we played solid.”