For the second night in a row, the New York Islanders had to overcome a 2-0 deficit to salvage something from a game in the Sunshine State. Unlike Friday in Sunrise, however, on Saturday in Tampa the power play worked. It really worked!
Instead of putting their fate in the hands of the shootout gods, this time they cashed in on a late power play to grab a 3-2 win and two regulation points.
Two minutes after the Lightning made it 2-0 early in the second, Josh Bailey got the Isles on the board through a pretty power play combo with John Tavares. It was otherwise a period dominated by the Lightning -- and saved by Thomas Greiss, including a penalty shot stop on Steven Stamkos -- but Cal Clutterbuck played shuffleboard to tie it heading into the final period.
That allowed Tavares to score the winner on a power play with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, capping a much better third period and making it a three-point trip to Florida.
The Lightning opened scoring late in the first period after good pressure followed by a puck that bounced just right: Sustained forecheck enabled Anton Stralman a clear shot from the point, which Thomas Greiss to blockered right into Steven Stamkos' torso, then pants, from which it bounced to Alex Killorn, who timed his swat just right for his fourth goal of the season.
A minute later, the Islanders received their first power play, but outside of a deflection off the post, it went about as well as most of their power plays have gone lately.
Fortunately, the story of their PP ills would change.
Before it did, however, we experienced the rare sight of a mid-power play fight when Ryan Callahan two-hand slashed and then crosschecked Kyle Okposo as the Isles winger lost the puck at the blueline in the Lightning zone. Okposo took exception -- the refs didn't, because this is the NHL and it rarely makes sense -- and the two Americans dropped their gloves. Okposo lost his footing quickly, and twice, so there wasn't much fight to it. Penalties for the "fighting," nothing for the obvious slash nor crosscheck. NHL hockey!
Anyway, the power play got better -- or luckier -- on the next two attempts and the Isles cashed in. A tough-luck first period, an alarming second (Stamkos' penalty shot was soon followed by a Valtteri Filppula breakaway Greiss also stopped), and a much more impressive third made for an interesting night. The Isles aren't apologizing for scratching out the win:
"A lot of things haven't been bouncing our way, but we've been really working for everything we've been getting," Tavares said. "We're getting timely goals and certainly we seem to be getting better as the game goes on."
Now they head back home for three, including Monday against the Central-dwelling Avalanche and Wednesday for the season's first Battle of New York.