Steven Stamkos scored two goals, his 51st and 52nd of the season, and added an assist as the Lightning rallied in the third period for a 4-3 win over the Islanders before a sellout crowd of 19,204 Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Stamkos’ 52 goals ties the franchise record for goals in a season, set by Vincent Lecavalier during the 2006-2007 season.
The win pushed Tampa Bay’s record to 34-33-7 for 75 points. They trail 8th place Washington now by 7 points with 8 games remaining. The Capitals did not play.
New York, who gave Al Montoya the surprise start, controlled the first five minutes of play forcing Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson to be sharp right from the opening face off. Just :46 into play Roloson stoned John Tavares from point plank range and less than two minutes later he made a nice save on Marty Reasoner after Reasoner had slipped in on a breakaway. Later in the period he stood tall and made a blocker save when the Islanders attacked with a 2 on 1 break, with Tampa Bay on the power play. Roloson played in his 600th NHL game and collected his 224th career win. While he kept the New York attack at bay the Lightning slowly started turning the tide and gaining momentum.
Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the night at 15:49 of the first with assists going to Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis. With several players in the slot fighting for the puck Purcell let a weak shot go towards the net when Stamkos grabbed it and stuffed it home between Montoya’s pads from the left side of the crease for a 1-0 Lightning lead.
The Islanders Travis Harmonic left the game near the 4 minute mark of the opening period after he was run over by Steven Stamkos behind the New York net. He returned later in the period.
Early in the second period Stamkos tied Lecavalier’s record on a beautiful one timer on a pass from Martin St. Louis from behind the goal line. Stamkos blasted the puck from the left face off circle at 1:46 to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead.
But the Islanders were not going to roll over just because of a two goal deficit. They took back control of the game and forced Roloson to be at his best yet again. They hit the post twice at the 4 minute mark and hit the post three times in the period. At 8:15 Frans Nielsen finally got the puck past Rolo on the power play for his 15th tally of the season. With Brandon Segal serving a tripping penalty Nielsen grabbed a loose puck in the slot and fired it in high on the glove side to cut the Tampa Bay lead to 2-1. Matt Moulson and John Tavares collected the assists.
With time winding down in the middle period the Lightning got a bit sloppy and turned the puck over deep in their own end and the result was Josh Bailey making a great pass out front from behind the net so Kyle Okposo could backhand it over a sliding Dwayne Roloson’s right shoulder into the net to tie the game at 19:54. For Okposo it was his 16th goal on the year and Tavares picked up the other assist.
Just :33 into the final period the Islanders quieted the building when Matt Moulson slammed home his 33rd of the year, a rebound from Mark Streit’s wraparound try. Moulson’s 100th career NHL goal gave the Isles a 3-2 lead.
Tom Pyatt tied the game at 3-3 at 9:08 when he tucked in a nice pass from Ryan Malone for Pyatt’s 11th goal. Malone was sliding into the right corner and threw a pass right through the crease were Pyatt was waiting for the easy goal. Brett Connolly was given the secondary assist.
With 7:50 to play in regulation Tim Wallace took a pass from Stamkos in the slot and fired a rocket wrister high on the stick side to beat Montoya and give Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead. The game winning goal was Wallace’s 3rd of the season. Pierre-Cedric Labrie got the other assist.
The Lightning outshot New York 11-8 in the final period but were outshot on the game 37-26.
The Three Stars of the game were 1. Steven Stamkos, 2. Matt Moulson, 3. Tim Wallace.
NOTES: Mike Commodore was a healthy scratch for the Lightning…..The USF Bulls basketball team attended the game…..Al Montoya made his first start since February 20th. He has been out of the lineup with a variety of injuries…..The Lightning’s AHL affiliate the Norfolk Admirals beat the Albany Devils 4-3 to win their 19th consecutive game. The winning streak is the longest in professional hockey history…..Tampa Bay visits the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night at 7:30pm.
Ray Blanchette covers the Lightning for Outside The Redzone. He also owns Blanchette Sports Holdings, a new sporting company that will operate 8 different sports leagues. Follow along with them at www.blanchettesportsholdings.weebly.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003521034703&sk=wall or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/BlanchettSports