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Burns: 3 Things from another win over the Islanders

The Lightning won their second meeting with New York in dominant fashion on Thursday night.

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The New York Islanders came into their second meeting this season against the Tampa Bay Lightning with something to prove after getting dismantled by the Bolts 6-1 in Brooklyn on November 1.

But after another impressive showing by the Lightning in a 4-1 win over the Isles Thursday night, it's back to the drawing board for New York.

 The Lightning scored two goals in the opening period to take a rare lead into the first intermission and added to their advantage 2:50 into the second period to play from in front the entire game. The Islanders responded with a goal midway through the second to give a brief glimmer of hope, but Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made several critical stops at the end of the second period and recorded 31 saves in all to improve to 3-1-1 on the season.

One Lightning player hit a milestone in the victory and another closed in on one in the historic win.
We'll explain who and what in 3 Things from another dominant performance for the Bolts over the Isles.

1. HE D-MAN

Video: NYI@TBL: Kucherov buries a wicked wrist shot

Over his eight seasons in the NHL, Victor Hedman has established himself as one of the premier defensemen in the league.

On Thursday, Hedman cemented his legacy as quite possibly the best blueliner the Bolts have ever put on the ice. 

In the first period of the 4-1 victory, Hedman found Nikita Kucherov alone on the edge of the left circle for a wrist shot that was too much for Islanders' goaltender Jaroslav Halak to handle. That score put the Bolts up 2-0, but it also gave Hedman his 188th career assist in a Lightning uniform to pass Dan Boyle (187 assists) for most all-time by a Bolts defenseman.

Hedman currently ranks seventh among all Lightning players for career assists and is just one away from tying Brian Bradley (189 assists) for sixth place.

"It's a good feeling, obviously," Hedman said. "I've been a part of this organization for a long time, and hopefully I get a few more down the road here. To have that record is big and something that I'm proud of."

Hedman remains the only Lightning defenseman to score a goal this season, netting three. Hedman's assist on Kucherov's goal was his eighth of the season, third most on the team behind only Kucherov (11) and Steven Stamkos (9).

Also on Thursday, Stamkos moved within a goal of Vincent Lecavalier for most all-time power-play goals by a Tampa Bay player after recording career power-play goal No. 111 at 8:03 of the first period. 
Lecavalier owns 112 power-play goals, but Stamkos will surely shatter that mark at some point this season, perhaps as soon as Saturday when the Lightning host the San Jose Sharks.

2. POWER PLAY SPARKS WIN

Video: NYI@TBL: Stamkos finishes snap shot for PPG

The Lightning started slowly against the Islanders as they registered just one shot on goal at the first television timeout and were unable to keep the puck in the Isles' zone for any length of time.

Nearly seven minutes into the game, however, an elbowing call to John Tavares put the Lightning on 
the power play, and they used it to take control of the game.

A little less than a minute and a half into the man-advantage, Tyler Johnson found Steven Stamkos alone in the left circle. Stamkos lasered a shot past Halak to net the first goal of the game.

It came on only the Bolts' third shot.

The Bolts continued to build off the momentum of that first-period power-play marker by keeping pressure on Halak, culminating in Nikita Kucherov's fifth goal of the season to put Tampa Bay up 2-0 11 minutes into the opening period.

"We moved the puck well and created a lot of opportunities, and for us to rely on that and to know that we have that is huge for us," Hedman said. "So you know you can't lose momentum when you have a power play, you have to gain it." 

The Lightning certainly gained momentum on their first power play and carried it throughout most of the first period and into the second. The Lightning had six power plays total and scored on two of them, netting multiple power-play goals for the sixth time this season.

The Bolts entered the game against the Islanders with 13 power-play goals, ranking second in the NHL. With two more against New York, they'll likely own the top spot after tonight's round of games.

"The power play helped us out, so that got us kick started," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "My issue then and especially in the Florida game is how we were finishing periods. Every period we did something that didn't help us going into the next period (at Florida). But tonight was not the case, and, ultimately, let's be honest, you get the lead and your chances of winning are better. It doesn't guarantee you're going to win, but it's much easier to play with the lead than not and there is more of a little bit of margin for error. So it was good to get the lead, and we were able to finish them off."

3. THE DAGGER

Video: NYI@TBL: Vasilevskiy stops Kulemin on the break

New York started to get back into the game midway through the second period after the Lightning had built a 3-0 advantage. Andrew Ladd put the Islanders on the board at 8:04 of the second, and the Isles kept the pressure on throughout the remainder of the period.

Only some brilliant saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy kept New York from getting any closer.

"Vasy was outstanding," Bolts captain Steven Stamkos said. "He made some huge saves. He was big with a couple breakaway saves. We know what we're going to get from Vasy, and he's going to make some huge saves with his athletic ability."

Rather than let New York carry that second-period momentum into the third, the Lightning effectively sealed the game on Brian Boyle's fourth goal of the season and third in his last five games just 1:08 into the final period. 

Cedric Paquette set the play up, keeping a tough, airborne puck in the zone and dishing to a wide-open Boyle. The 31-year-old center sent a shot over the glove of Thomas Greiss, who entered after Halak gave up his third goal, the second time in two games this season the Lightning have chased the Islanders' starting goalie.

"Lucky shot if you ask me," Stamkos said laughing, with Boyle one stall over and within ear shot of his post-game media scrum. 

"But no, anytime you get a two-goal lead, they say that's probably one of the worst ones to have in the third. That was a big goal. It gives you some breathing room and still allows you to make plays, and I thought we had a really solid third period."

Following Boyle's goal, the Lightning dominated possession for the remainder of the game and didn't allow the Islanders to ever really test Vasilevskiy over the final 20 minutes.

"It kind of ultimately popped their balloon a little bit," Cooper said. "It's 3-1. It's a game, plus they had momentum. We needed that buzzer to go in the second period, and, as I said, it helped us being up two instead of just one. And then you get that fourth one, and it kind of sucked a little air out of their tires."

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