As much as the New York Islanders stressed discipline in the leadup to Thursday's game, they found themselves in penalty trouble against Tampa Bay and it cost them in a 4-1 loss at Amalie Arena.
The Islanders took four penalties in the first 22 minutes of Thursday's game, yielding a pair of power-play goals as the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Andrew Ladd scored his second goal in as many games to cut into the deficit, but that was as close as the Islanders came on Thursday night.
"It's no secret, it's the amount of penalties we've been taking," John Tavares said. "It's really putting us in a tough spot having to climb back into a lot of games. It's not the result we want either. It's frustrating not being able to generate momentum off Monday's game."
Steven Stamkos (1G, 2A) opened the scoring on the man advantage, with his shot deflecting off Johnny Boychuk's leg and in at 8:03. Nikita Kucherov, who had four points against the Islanders on Nov. 1, put the Lightning up 2-0 shortly after, beating Jaroslav Halak stick side through a screen. Tyler Johnson one-timed a seam pass from Stamkos to make it 3-0 Bolts on an early second period power play.
Johnson's goal ended Halak's night at 2:50 of the second period, as Thomas Greiss relieved the Islanders' starter.
"They can make plays and move the puck around," Tavares said. "Very skilled, their D is very involved and they can create opportunities, especially on the power play and the power play gives them momentum."
Video: NYI@TBL: Ladd nets wrist shot on a two-on-one
While penalties hurt the Islanders early, they had their chances at even strength. Nikolay Kulemin had a one-on-one chance in tight shorthanded and Casey Cizikas narrowly missed converting on a 4-on-1 rush, but the Islanders got on the board shortly after. Ladd scored his second of the season, keeping and shooting on a 2-on-1 rush, zipping a shot glove side on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Islanders continued to press after Ladd's goal, but that was the lone marker in a 16-shot period, as the Islanders outshot the Bolts 25-17 through two periods. The momentum didn't carry over to the third period, as Brian Boyle scored 1:08 into the final frame, putting the Lightning up 4-1. Shane Prince had the Islanders' best chance to get back in the game in the third, but his breakaway was denied by Vasilevskiy.
"Five-on-five we thought we created some chances and did some good things," Ladd said. "It's tough when you're in the box all night, you have the guys that aren't killing penalties sitting on the bench and it takes the bench out of rhythm. We need to do a better job of staying out of the box and the rest will take care of themselves."
The Islanders look to rebound on Saturday night when they visit the Florida Panthers in the team's first meeting since the first round of last spring's playoffs.