The New York Islanders successfully bottled up the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, holding the league's most-offensive team to one goal in a 5-1 Islander win at Amalie Arena.
Brock Nelson scored two third period goals, while Ross Johnston, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves, as the Isles picked up their second win over the Lightning this season and first win on their current three-game road trip.
"Our offense isn't maybe the focal point of the conversation, but we've got guys that can score," Nelson said of turning the tables on Tampa. "We had the character that we can win in different ways. We've shown that in the last year and a half. Just tight defensive systems and good goaltending. It was just a good game."
Video: Nelson, Bailey lead Islanders past Lightning, 5-1
ISLES SHOW COMMITMENT AND "KILLER INSTINCT" IN THIRD:
There were two things that Barry Trotz liked about the Islanders third period on Monday night; their commitment to detail and their "killer instinct" to put the game away.
Up 2-1 heading into the third period, the Isles were expecting a push from the Lightning. The storm came, with the Isles unable to clear the zone early on and having to kill a penalty against the league's second-best power play.
That's where the commitment came into play, as the Isles did their best to clog up shooting lanes and tie up sticks. Adam Pelech tied up Patrick Maroon just long enough for Varlamov to make a sprawling arm save at the side of the net, to keep the score 3-1.
"We battled through that. We had high commitment and it was a real good team win," Trotz said. "Good goaltending tonight, our compete level through the lineup was very good against a very good hockey team. There's always challenges in this building… At the end we had that killer instinct."
Video: NYI@TBL: Nelson roofs shot home off own rebound
The Isles scored not long after Varlamov's momentum save, as a puck along the boards squirted to Nelson alone in front of the Lightning net and he knocked his own rebound past Curtis McElhinney at 7:31. The Islanders caught another break shortly after, as Trotz successfully challenged and overturned a Victor Hedman tally, due to Anthony Cirelli being offside.
"They had some pressure there but we were able to weather it," Nelson said. "Getting the third and fourth one and then obviously, the offsides call that's another big momentum swing for us. That's a big road win against a big team and a good comeback effort for us."
Instead of holding onto a 3-2 lead, the Isles extended it to 4-1, as Nelson slipped his second of the night underneath McElhinney from the slot at 14:41. Lee iced the game with a power-play deflection at 16:05.
Video: NYI@TBL: Varlamov stretches out to rob Maroon
VARLAMOV SHINES IN WIN:
Varlamov was outstanding on Monday night, turning in his fourth-straight, 30-plus save performance.
The Isles goalie left his imprint on the game in the first period, as he stepped up to deny Cory Conacher on an uncontested breakaway from the Islanders blue line. The cause and effect was clear, as the Ryan Pulock sent Johnston going the other way to open the scoring on the following sequence.
Varlamov came up with a handful of big saves on Monday, including his desperation stop on Maroon early in the third. The win marked Varlamov's third straight and he has now stopped 122 of his last 126 shots.
The 31-year-old Russian was quick to defer the praise to his teammates.
"I've got to give the team credit," Varlamov said. "The boys are battling in front of me. We're playing really good defensively like tonight, that's why we won."
JOHNSTON SCORES A BEAUTY:
Ross Johnston opened the scoring on Monday night, beating McElhinney cleanly with a far-side wrister off the rush. It was a pretty goal for the big man, who found the back of the net for the second time this season and first since Oct. 27.
"Everybody gets pretty fired up seeing [Ross] get that one," Nelson said. "That was a huge play for us. It was a great shot; far side, far post and net. That was a huge swing, huge save, great play and then getting up there and good play by Johnner [Ross]."
Monday also marked the third game Johnston has played on the Islanders top line with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey.
"He keeps getting more and more comfortable," Bailey said. "He's obviously a presence out there, gives Barzy and myself a lot of space and he's been going to the dirty areas, winning battles, getting pucks to us and going to the net hard. It's great to see him get rewarded, he deserves it."
Video: NYI@TBL: Bailey snaps shot home on breakaway for SHG
BAILEY NETS SHORTHANDED GOAL, ISLES WIN SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE:
After going 0-for-2 on the penalty kill on Saturday, the Islanders shorthanded unit responded in a big way against a potent Lightning power play.
The Isles went 3-for-3 with a shorthanded goal, as Josh Bailey buried a breakaway at 8:37 of the first period. Perhaps as nice as the goal - a nifty forehand move before beating McElhinney high - was the play to set up the goal.
Casey Cizikas dove and swatted away a loose puck in the defensive end, springing Bailey on a breakaway from the Isles side of center. The goal was the Isles fourth shorthanded marker of the season.
The power play also went 1-for-2.
The Islanders wrap up their three-game road trip on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.