Islanders take down Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. — Off to a sizzling start to the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning know they carry a target on their jerseys.
The New York Islanders hit them right in the bull’s-eye on Saturday night.
John Tavares scored his 14th goal of the season and finished with three points, Anders Lee scored twice and the Islanders knocked off the top team in the league, picking up a 5-3 victory at Amalie Arena.
Josh Bailey had three assists and Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd also scored for New York.
Thomas Greiss stopped 36 shots for the victory.
The Islanders have won a season-best three consecutive games for the second time this season.
“(The Lightning) are in the position that they are in, so we knew we had to come in here and work and play a good 60 minutes,” said Lee, who has 11 goals this season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots to suffer his first loss in regulation since Oct. 7 at Florida.
Yanni Gourde scored twice and Ondrej Palat added his fifth goal of the season for Tampa Bay, which suffered its first regulation loss since Oct. 28.
“Everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game in this building and we have to expect that and have a good start and slow them down, make them realize the Tampa Bay Lightning are ready to play and we are going to play like that for 60 minutes,” said Gourde, who had his second career multi-goal game.
New York jumped on Tampa Bay early, pressuring pucks from the opening faceoff and creating turnovers. On the opening shift, Tavares pinched off Brayden Point along the wall to prevent a clearance out of the Lightning zone, kept the puck in and moments later Ladd zipped a shot over Vasilevskiy just 51 seconds in to the game.
It was a theme for most of the first period.
“It was huge to get on the board quick and get that confidence in a place like this, but we really just executed,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said. “Not to say what our game plan was or anything like that, but we just executed how we wanted to play tonight.”
Lee scored his first of the night on a two-on-one at 10:25 of the first period. Nelson made a power move to get around Jake Dotchin in tight at 7:09 of the second before Lee scored on the power play 1:05 in to third for the four-goal lead.
“We had something to prove to ourselves a little bit,” Lee said. “We know what we’re capable of now and we know what type of game we need to play to beat these kind of teams.”
The Lightning made it interesting. Gourde and Palat scored 13 seconds apart two minutes after Lee made it 4-0.
Gourde scored his second of the game with 3:26 left to cut the deficit to a goal, but Tavares iced it with his 14th of the season into an empty net with 22 seconds left.
“We know they are a good team, we just came out a little flat,” Palat said. “They were skating better the first period. Our game got better as the game went on, but it was too late.”
NOTES: The Lightning honored former captain Dave Andreychuk, who was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this week, during pregame. Andreychuck dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff. ... The Islanders were without RW Cal Clutterbuck, who missed the game due to illness. ... Tampa Bay scratched D Andrej Sustr and RW Gabriel Dumont. ... Tampa Bay D Slater Koekkoek appeared in his 50th career game. ... New York scratched D Dennis Seidenberg and D Scott Mayfield. ... C Alan Quine appeared in just his third game since returning from injury. ... The Lightning duo of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were both held scoreless in a game for just the third time this season. ... Tampa Bay saw its streak of 19 consecutive successful penalty kills end in the third period. ... The Islanders improved to 7-0 this season when scoring first.