No lead is safe. Just ask the New York Islanders.
Valtteri Filppula scored twice late in the third period and again in the shootout to help the Tampa Bay Lightning rally from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 shootout victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders, who've lost five games this season in which they've led by two goals, most in the NHL. Evgeni Nabokov was 2:53 away from a shutout, but instead finished with 34 saves in the loss.
The Islanders are 1-9-4 in the past 14 games and 3-15-4 in the past 22.
"All our efforts goes to the [toilet]," Nabokov said. "That's a pretty simple explanation. We just don't know how to win right now."
Filppula and Nikita Kucherov scored in the shootout for the Lightning, who received 32 saves from goalie Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay (20-11-3) returns home to face the Nashville Predators on Thursday. The Lightning finished their three-game road trip with two wins.
"I remember after the second [period] we came off and I was thinking we've been shut out in seven out of eight periods on the road, but we've played pretty well in the third," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We passed up too many shots tonight, but the boys stuck with it and we probably stole a couple points tonight."
Okposo broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal 11 seconds into the second period. With Radko Gudas in the penalty box, Okposo one-timed John Tavares' feed from the point that found its way through a crowd in front and past Bishop to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. It was Okposo's 11th goal of the season and ended New York's scoring drought at 108:57.
Nielsen doubled New York's lead with his first goal in 13 games at 10:21 of the third period. Nielsen came down on a 2-on-1 with Michael Grabner, took a pass from the latter and ripped a wrist shot past Bishop to make it 2-0. With the assist, Grabner recorded his first point since Oct. 17, a span of 25 games. Josh Bailey had the second assist, his first point in 12 games.
But again, the Islanders couldn't protect a two-goal lead on home ice.
"It's unbelievable. It's frustrating, it's disappointing," Tavares said. "We're not happy with the result and we play a pretty good hockey game. Two mistakes, two guys wide open and it kills us. It's just realizing 60 minutes. We really have to play that perfect game right now."
The Lightning solved Nabokov with 2:53 remaining in regulation on Filppula's 11th goal of the season. With the teams at even strength, Nielsen sent a blind backhand pass in his own zone that landed right on Filppula's stick, and the Lightning forward wristed a shot from the right circle past Nabokov to make it 2-1.
Filppula then tied it with 3.8 seconds left and Bishop on the bench for an extra attacker. The puck squirted loose during a scramble in front, and Filppula quickly backhanded it over the goal line to tie the game.
"The first goal I got was a lucky one. I was surprised I got the puck, but I was happy it went in," Filppula said. "On the second one, there was a lot of guys in front of the net and I just stayed out of the pile hoping the puck would make its way out and to me."
It marked the fourth straight home game for the Islanders that required overtime. They've lost all four and blown a third-period lead in three of them.
"It [stinks]," New York coach Jack Capuano said. "Puck management at the end … obviously we had a chance on the first one to get it out, and we had two chances on the last goal that they scored to get it out. They won the battle in front of the net. They had the will."
The Islanders (9-19-7) will visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday in a preview of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game that will take place at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 29.
Material from team media was used in this report