Through 17 games, the Tampa Bay Lightning led the National Hockey League in scoring, tallying 60 goals.
On Saturday, the Bolts continued to torch the opposition’s net.
Tampa Bay snapped a brief, two-game losing skid, knocking off the red-hot New York Islanders 5-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning (12-4-2 26 points) averaged 3.53 goals a game entering the matchup against the Islanders, winners of their last five. The Bolts bettered that mark by the second minute of the second period.
“I thought for the most part, barring probably the last six, seven minutes there, we played a solid hockey game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It was good to see. Good response.”
Cedric Paquette, back in the Bolts lineup after being scratched Thursday against San Jose, scored for the fifth time in five games since returning from Syracuse to provide Tampa Bay with the game-winning goal.
“The guy’s hot. He’s a good player,” Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said. “It’s really good to see a guy like that get rewarded because he does all the little things right. He’s one of those guys, he has that team-first mentality.”
Vladislav Namestnikov wheeled around the net and threw the puck in front of the Islanders goal, and Paquette sent a wrist shot through traffic and past New York goaltender Chad Johnson for a 3-2 Tampa Bay advantage 15:29 into the opening period.
“I’m still battling for a spot on this team, every shift, every game I have a chance to play,” Paquette said. “So, I play my best and I try to help the team.”
Johnson’s goal was his sixth of the season. Palat (lower-body injury) was a game-time decision whether he’d skate tonight but played a full 60 minutes.
“We’re working hard, getting those chances, and when we get those chances, we’re burying them,” Johnson said.
Ben Bishop (10-2-2) won for the first time in three starts, stopping 25 shots to earn his tenth victory of the season.
“Bish still made some huge saves for us,” Johnson said. “Credit to him, he really helped us out when we needed it.”
New York (11-6-0, 22 points) tallied on its first shot of the game to score the opening goal, Brock Nelson skating into the slot without anybody from the Lightning defense picking him up and lifting a shot over Bishop for his eight goal of the season.
Ryan Callahan tied the score a minute later, potting a rebound past Johnson (23 saves) after
Jason Garrison’s slap shot from the point was pushed away.
Callahan’s goal was his sixth of the season. Garrison and Valtteri Filppula were given assists.
“They got that first one, [and] I was really proud of the guys how we responded,” Cooper said. “We kept answering their goals.”
The Islanders were able to use their first power play to regain the lead at 11:22 of the first period. From the slot, Josh Bailey redirected Johnny Boychuk’s slap shot past Bishop just as Radko Gudas, serving a two-minute minor for holding, was exiting the box.
Filppula answered nearly two-and-a-half minutes later, taking advantage of a brief, 11-second 5-on-3. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos passed from the left wing to an open Filppula on the back post, and the Finnish forward finished past Johnson with a wrist shot over the shoulder to tie the score 2-2 just after the first penalty expired.
For Filppula, the goal was his fourth of the season. Stamkos and Garrison were credited with assists.
Stamkos extended his point streak to five games.
Radko Gudas notched his first goal of the season, sending an innocuous-looking wrist shot from the blue line toward goal that somehow eluded Johnson, sealing the game 15:34 into the third period.
“We had a really solid second period,” Cooper said. “I don’t know if we gave them really a sniff in the second. We didn’t really give them a sniff in the third until kind of the, basically right before we scored. That was big that the boys kept it out of the net. When we got that fifth one, that kind of was it.”
Tampa Bay outshot the Islanders 28-27.
“I thought we tightened up a little bit in the neutral zone after that first period going into the second,” Callahan said. “We traded a few and we tightened up. When we did that, started getting more pucks deep, we started to take over the game.”
The Islanders were playing the second game of a back-to-back scenario having defeated Florida 4-3 in a shootout on Friday.
“You have to take advantage of tired teams and your home ice,” Cooper said. “We let one slip the other night, but we got it tonight.”
The Lightning hit the road for a three-game set starting with Monday’s matchup against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. A return date with the Islanders (Tuesday, Oct. 18) and a trip to Toronto (Thursday, Oct. 20) follow.