The New York Islanders were left frustrated on Thursday night, as they watched a solid effort against the NHL's top team come undone in the final 90 seconds in a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tied 2-2 after Josh Bailey's second goal of the night, Tyler Johnson slipped behind the Isles defense, tipping in Nikita Kucherov's cross-ice feed with 1:26 to go. It negated a third-period comeback, Bailey's two-goal night and the fact that the Isles controlled large portions of the contest. The loss also snapped the Islanders seven-game point streak.
"I thought we played a really good game in a lot of areas against a very good team," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "The frustrating thing is the missed assignment when we win the draw in the last minute of the game and we're leaving the zone instead of making sure the puck is out. That's the disappointing thing. You put in 59 pretty good minutes and you feel you at least get a point, maybe two and you throw it away. That's why the details are so important."
Video: NYI@TBL: Bailey battles for puck, beats Vasilevskiy
The Islanders felt like the better team for much of Thursday's affair. They outshot the Lightning 37-27, including 16-7 in the first period, with Bailey putting them ahead 1-0 after spinning off Anton Stralman and Yanni Groude in the slot and burying on Andrei Vasilevskiy at 3:40.
Tampa Bay responded in the second period, scoring two goals in a span of 5:14. Mathieu Joseph's shot off the rush deflected off Scott Mayfield's stick and past Robin Lehner at 5:58, while J.T. Miller capped some Lightning pressure with a one-timer from the high slot at 11:12.
But just as soon as it looked like the tide had turned in Tampa's favor, the Islanders wrestled the momentum back, starting with a spirited PK on an Anders Lee slashing minor. It could have easily been 2-2 when Lee charged out of the box and whacked at a Casey Cizikas rebound, or again when Jordan Eberle's open-net look was thwarted by Stralman, or when the Isles started the third period with a 47 second two-man advantage.
Video: NYI@TBL: Bailey nets second to tie game in 3rd
Eventually Bailey was able to tie it up, burying a feed from Adam Pelech, who pinched down low and skated around the Tampa net before feeding the puck out front. At that point the Islanders looked destined to get to overtime, but Johnson's late goal proved decisive. Steven Stamkos iced with an empty netter.
"A disappointing way it ended up," Bailey said. "For the most part, aside from probably 10-15 minutes in the second, I thought we played a pretty good game. Our power play has to find a way to score with the amount of opportunities we had."
"It's a tough one to let slip away," Bailey added.
Video: NYI@TBL: Lehner stones Cirelli on breakaway
Robin Lehner made 23 saves on 26 shots in his first game since Oct. 30. Overall the Islanders goalie said he felt good about his game, which included some big saves to keep his team within striking distance. It was hard to fault him on the backdoor play on the winning goal.
"It's a good team over there. I felt good coming in," Lehner said. "I'd like to have the first goal back, I made a technical mistake there, but at the end of the day after their two goals I felt like I refocused and made some good saves in the second after that and the third. It was a tight game. It was a 3-2 game. There's a few things to keep working on. It just sucks. We should at least have a point today."
The Islanders head to Sunrise, FL for a date with the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.