TAMPA – Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper predicted Thursday's matchup may be a battle to the finish and that is exactly how it ended in a 2-1 shootout loss for the Bolts.
"They're fast and they throw a lot of pucks," captain Martin St. Louis said. "I thought we contained that for the most part. We had chances, they had chances, both goalies played really well and it could have gone either way."
While St. Louis said there was a lack of flow in the contest, Cooper also said that Tampa Bay could have shot the puck more and at times the Lightning got "a little too cute" with the puck or made one too many passes.
"I just think there were some chances we passed up," Cooper said. "Anytime you get a shot on goal there's a chance the goaltender's going to save it, but it's the ones you don't take, that's what leaves you wondering."
Martin St. Louis extended his point streak to six games (four goals, three assists) at 5:45 of the first period on a Bolts power play. Tyler Johnson passed to Valtteri Filppula, who wound up to take the shot, but the puck got away from him and St. Louis took a much better shot on a wide open Islanders' net for a 1-0 lead.
The Isles scored their first marker, a game-tying tally, after more than 38 minutes of play also on the man advantage. John Tavares won the initial faceoff immediately following a high-sticking call on Victor Hedman. The puck was then touched by Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek, who beat Ben Bishop at 18:22, and tied the game at one.
"By the last half of the second we started making mental mistakes," Cooper said. "I think we were getting a little frustrated we weren't scoring and then we started to do things we normally try not to do. They got a little momentum off the good bounce in the faceoff to score on the power play."
After the game ended knotted at one through 60 neither team was able to score in the extra frame as well. For the Lightning Filppula, Nikita Kucherov and Hedman were unable to register a shootout goal. Nielsen managed the lone shootout tally five-hole on Bishop for the 2-1 final.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay preps to play their fourth game this week with an 11 a.m. Friday practice at Brandon Ice Sports Forum. They will then suit up to face the San Jose Sharks for their lone meeting at the Tampa Bay Times Forum this year Saturday at 2 p.m. The Saturday matinee is also part one of back-to-back games, as the Bolts immediately head to Carolina following their contest with San Jose for a game against the Hurricanes Sunday.