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Isles return home to face Bolts after solid trip

by Brian Compton
LIGHTNING (11-13-2) at ISLANDERS (8-11-5)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 3-7-0; New York 4-4-2.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Each team has won on home ice -- the Islanders cruised to a 5-1 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 13 before the Lightning earned a 4-1 win one week later at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Big Story: Are the Islanders back in the playoff mix? New York returns home from a highly-successful road trip that saw it finish 3-0-1 after Saturday night's 5-4 win at Dallas. The Islanders enter Tuesday's action 8 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they have three games in hand on the eighth-place Ottawa Senators.

"It's coming," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "They're working. It's still a process. For us to win games, there's no question that we have to play structured hockey. We have to play within the team concept if we're going to have success."

Team Scope:

Lightning: The woes continued for Tampa Bay on Monday night, as it dropped its fourth straight game with a 4-2 loss to the Senators at Scotiabank Place. Dwayne Roloson allowed 4 goals on 31 shots and saw his goals-against average increase to 3.55 and his save percentage drop to .886.

The Lightning also failed to capitalize on several Grade-A chances and went 0-for-3 on the power play.

"You can't get more quality scoring chances than this," coach Guy Boucher said. "Three-on-ones, two-on-ones, open nets and we can't bury. And then the opponent in the third period gets a bounce here or there and it kills us. The power play is the difference. Last year we were 24 percent on the power play, and we had 50 more minutes of power play at this time last year. Power play was better and we had a lot more, so we'd win our games.

"At the end of game, we made a few mistakes. The guys on the ice aren't fools – they see that we miss and miss. You don't want to be scared, but you know the reality is if you miss that netting that can haunt you.  We can't get more scoring chances than we have. It's impossible."
Islanders: In a wild affair at the American Airlines Center, the Isles received a 4-goal performance from Matt Moulson and hung on to earn a 5-4 win against the Stars. New York jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Rick DiPietro struggled in the second period and ended up leaving the game before the third due to a groin injury. Dallas rallied to tie the game, but Moulson added two more goals to help the Isles finish their 4-game trip with a 3-0-1 record.

"I think the biggest thing is our attitude and how we approach different situations in the game," Moulson said of his club's turnaround. "Maybe earlier in the season, something bad would happen and we'd hang our heads a little bit and feel sorry for ourselves. But that's not the case anymore. I think that no matter what happens in the game, we keep coming. That might have been the best thing that happened to us for the rest of the season was going through a stretch like that. We're lucky we were able to cut it shorter than we have in previous years. We just have a real positive outlook on the rest of the season."

Who's Hot: Lightning center Steven Stamkos had a pair of assists on Monday night. He has 5 goals and 5 assists over his last seven games. … Moulson was named the NHL's First Star of the Week. He had 7 goals in the four road games. John Tavares has 5 assists in his last two contests.

Injury Report: Lightning defenseman Matthias Ohlund (knees) is out. … The Isles will be without forwards Nino Niederreiter (concussion), Jay Pandolfo (foot), Michael Grabner (groin), defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Andrew MacDonald (leg) and goaltenders Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Rick DiPietro (groin). Goalie Kevin Poulin and forward Tim Wallace were recalled from AHL Bridgeport on Monday.

Stat Pack: Moulson became the first Islander since Viktor Kozlov (2006) to score four goals in a game and the first to do so against Dallas since Keith Tkachuk accomplished the feat in 1996.

Puck Drop: "I'm trying to get better in a lot of areas. When you're not scoring, you try to make sure you're being solid in other areas. I've talked about becoming a better all-around player and I'm still trying produce offensively and be good in my defensive-zone coverage and be good in faceoffs and stuff like that. I always want to score, but I'm just trying to do other things right and hopefully they'll start to come." -- Islanders center John Tavares

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