Tampa Bay played perhaps its most complete game of the season the first time they squared off against the New York Islanders in 2016-17.
The Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period on November 1, a rarity for the Bolts this season, on their way to a dominating 6-1 victory to close out their first road trip of the season.
The Lightning expect a bounce-back performance from the Islanders, who were humiliated in that five-goal loss and are still searching for their first road victory of the season. New York starts a two-game trip tonight at AMALIE Arena.
Video: Cooper on Thursday's matchup vs. NYI
"We were able to get out on them early the last time we played against them, but we know they're going to be coming pretty hard," Bolts center Tyler Johnson said. "We've got to be ready right from the get-go and got to play like we did last time."
The Lightning and the Islanders have developed a bit of a rivalry over the last couple seasons, highlighted by a 2016 Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup the Bolts took in five games. In their first meeting since that playoff series, the Isles' Calvin de Haan hit Bolts forward Jonathan Drouin up high in the game's opening seconds, sparking a brawl between de Haan and Ryan Callahan and sending Drouin to the bench for the rest of the night.
Drouin has yet to play since, missing the last three games with an upper-body injury. He'll also be out again tonight.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, however, doesn't expect there to be any negative feelings carried over between the two teams when they hook up for the second game of their three-game regular season series.
"We've forgotten about that game," Cooper said. "I'm sure they have too. Regardless whether the score was 6-1 or 1-0, it's still the same amount of points. It's two points. In this league for the most part, I think teams turn the page and move on to the next game. It is kind of weird in the schedule that we're playing them and the Devils so many times this early in the year, but we're - and I'm sure it's the same with (Islanders head coach Jack Capuano) - we're way more worried about your team and how our effort's going to be. We're sitting here saying, 'How's our start going to be? Can we have the same start we had up on the island, regardless if it was them or not?' That's what we're concentrating on, and I'm sure they've got whatever issues they're dealing with over there."
The Lightning close out the regular season series with the Islanders in four days when they travel to the Barclays Center November 14 to start a five-game road trip for the Bolts. The Lightning and the Islanders play all three regular season games within a 14-day window.
"(The 6-1 loss) is probably more fresh in their mind because they didn't probably play the game they wanted to, and they'll come out hungry," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. "And you know, we both played a couple games since then, but I think the more you play teams in the playoffs and create that little rivalry like we started last year is only going to help with the intensity and the pace of the games."
INJURY UPDATES: Jonathan Drouin didn't take part in the Lightning's morning skate, instead coming out in sweats to do some light stick handling near the Bolts bench.
Cooper didn't have an update when Drouin would return but said it's imperative the team not rush him back.
"It's all about how he's feeling," Cooper said. "He wants to come back more than anybody, but we don't want him back unless he's 100 percent. Hopefully this will be soon."
Video: Stamkos on importance of fast start
Valtteri Filppula was a surprise scratch from the Florida game on Monday when he didn't take part in pregame warmups and was soon after announced as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Filppula, however, did practice yesterday and again today during the optional skate and looks to be back in the lineup after missing just one game.
Anton Stralman, meanwhile, had a body maintenance day Wednesday and didn't participate in Thursday's optional skate, but Cooper said the veteran defenseman will be in the lineup tonight for the Bolts.
ODDS AND ENDS: Andrei Vasilevskiy was the first Lightning goaltender off the ice from morning skate and will, in all likelihood, make his fifth start of the season tonight. Vasilevskiy started the season with wins in his first two games but is looking to rebound after going 0-1-1 since…Tampa Bay continues to boast two players in the top 11 for scoring in the NHL with Nikita Kucherov (4-11-15) ranking tied for fifth and Steven Stamkos (7-7-14) ranking tied for 11th. Kucherov is tied for fourth in the league for assists, and Stamkos is tied for sixth in the league for goals…Ondrej Palat netted just his second goal of the season Monday night in Sunrise against Florida, ending a seven-game stretch without a point for the left winger. Palat paces the NHL for takeaways (19) and leads the Lightning for hits (29)…Valtteri Filppula needs just one goal to reach 150 for his career and 50 for his career with the Lightning…The Lightning have gone 5-2-1 at home against the Islanders since the start of the 2011-12 season…Stamkos has recorded 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 26 career regular season games versus the Islanders, and Stamkos, Braydon Coburn and Anton Stralman are all a team-best plus-10 for their career against New York.