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Islanders hope to end home skid as Lightning visit

by Pete Jensen

LIGHTNING (19-11-3) at ISLANDERS (9-19-6)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 5-3-2; New York 1-6-3

Season series: This marks the first of three games between the teams and the lone clash at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 2013-14. The New York Islanders swept the season series with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012-13, as Evgeni Nabokov allowed a combined five goals in the three victories.

Big story: The Lightning, who snapped a seven-game road losing streak Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, can secure a winning road trip by beating the Islanders on Tuesday. New York, meanwhile, hopes to avoid its sixth straight home defeat.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Tampa Bay, a dominant home team this season (12-3-1), has not seen nearly as much success on the road (7-8-2).

But after a 3-0 victory against the Red Wings on Sunday, the Lightning can reverse their fortunes when they wrap up a three-game road trip on Long Island. Ben Bishop registered his third shutout of the season (tied for the NHL lead) and has given the Lightning a chance to earn back-to-back road wins for the first time since early November.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper knows road triumphs are essential for a team that has hopes of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010-11.

"We were on a little skid on the road and if you want to put yourself in a position to make the playoffs you have to win on the road," Cooper told the team's website. "We are a little below .500 on the road, but that was a big step and hopefully we can regain our legs and have a good one against New York on the Island."

Islanders: After going 1-4-0 on its Western Conference road trip, New York hoped two key lineup inclusions could spark the team upon its return home Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. Nabokov was in net for the first time in nearly a month and top prospect Ryan Strome was making his NHL debut.

Unfortunately, it was a similar result for the Islanders, who dropped a 1-0 overtime decision despite a 24-save effort by Nabokov. Strome did not record a point but had two shots on goal.

The loss to Montreal marked the Islanders' 17th defeat in their past 20 games, but their veteran goalie noted that his team's defensive adjustments were a step in the right direction.

"The guys did a hell of a job around the net and in the neutral zone," Nabokov said after the game. "It was a tight game. We did a lot of good things defensively."

Who's hot: Bishop is 3-0-1 over his past four outings, allowing a combined two goals in the three wins. J.T. Brown, who scored a goal in the Lightning's win against Detroit, has three points in his past four games. … Prior to the Islanders being shut out by the Habs, Kyle Okposo had two goals, one assist and eight shots on goal in two games.

Injury report: Steven Stamkos remains on injured reserve but joined his Lightning teammates at their morning skate Saturday for the first time since breaking his leg on Nov. 11. Victor Hedman (lower body) and Keith Aulie (hand) are not expected to play against New York. Ryan Malone (ankle), Tom Pyatt (collarbone) and Brian Lee (knee) are also sidelined. … Casey Cizikas (jaw) is questionable for the Islanders, while Radek Martinek (back) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) remain on IR.

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