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Lightning 4, Islanders 1: Stamkos, Johnson’s power play goals stun Isles

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Andrew Ladd’s early season slump appears to be over but the Islanders’ struggle with special teams sinks them.

NHL: New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning
A summary.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders were looking to get their first point on the road, but they were unable to do so against the Tampa Bay Lightning. At even strength, the Islanders played well, especially in the second period where they dominated in shots and possession. However, the penalty kill continued to struggle, conceding two goals that ultimately changed the tide of the game.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First to Forget

The game plan against the Lightning was to stay out of the box and play disciplined hockey, so inevitably John Tavares took a bad elbowing penalty, leading to a Steven Stamkos power play goal. Nikita Kucherov scored two minutes later at even strength, and the period didn’t get much better after that.

Anders Lee and Andrew Ladd both took frustration penalties, but the PK was able to endure as the Isles went into the second down 2-0.

Per Eric Hornick, in Tampa Bay’s 12 other games combined, they have four goals in the first period. In just their two games against the Islanders, they have five. Starting slow against a team as dangerous offensively as the Lightning is a bad way to play, and the Islanders learned that lesson.

Special Team Woes

The penalty kill has had a bad stretch lately after being one of the best in the NHL last season. Stamkos and Tyler Johnson both scored power play goals, Johnson’s coming early in the second period. The PK is going to have to improve if the Islanders want to win games against the best in the league.

The power play has also continued to struggle, failing to generate any real offensive opportunities despite a lot of zone time. The Islanders can cycle well on the power play, but seem unable to convert that into anything, and players like Johnny Boychuk haven’t been able to get their shots from the point on net.

Good Kid, Ladd City

Andrew Ladd struggled greatly early on in the season, recording a point only as an assist on a John Tavares empty net goal. However, he’s scored twice in his past two games, busting a slump that both he - and the fans - can be happy is over. It’s good to see him back on the score sheet and hopefully he can start to build chemistry with his teammates.

Goalie Rotation

After Johnson’s power play goal, Jaroslav Halak was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots. Thomas Greiss was brought into the game, and conceded one goal on 10 shots.

Out of Reach

Despite the Islanders going into the third period with a little bit of hope, Brian Boyle scored early, making this a 4-1 game. The Lightning came out strong in the third, pressing the Islanders and generating a lot of scoring chances.

Tampa Bay dominated this period possession-wise, and the Islanders weren’t able to generate much of anything to even threaten them. The game was pretty much out of reach by the time Boyle scored, so the Isles can be forgiven for playing a flat third period.

Up Next

The Islanders stay in the Sunshine State to play the Florida Panthers on Saturday. They’ll still be looking for their first points of the season on the road against the team they beat in the playoffs last season. The Panthers, like the Islanders, have been struggling lately, going 4-6-0 in their last 10. The Isles have been beating the teams they’re supposed to beat so far this season, and the Panthers look like they should be one of those teams, too.