LIGHTNING (1-1-1) at ISLANDERS (1-1-0)
TV: SUN (HD); MSG (HD)
Season Series: First of four, the Islanders have taken three of four three times in four seasons. Last season, the lone win for the Bolts came at Nassau Coliseum, a 4-2 win last Nov. 17.
Big story: Long road trips are always tough, and this is the fourth of five games away from the St. Pete Times Forum for the Lightning at the start of the season while the renovations are being completed. They've filled all three columns in the standings so far, with a win in Carolina, a loss to the Bruins and a point on Monday in a 6-5 shootout loss in Washington, their third game in four nights. They have one more road game Saturday at Florida. The Islanders got outhustled by the Panthers in their season opener in a 2-0 loss Saturday and did the same to the Wild on Monday, at least for one period, in a 2-1 win. Their four-game homestand concludes with the Rangers on Saturday, followed by a trip to the Sunshine State to face the Bolts and Panthers.
Lightning: The 6-5 loss to the Caps was, as one might expect, a case of a lot done right and just a little more done wrong. They had scoring chances, capitalized on some, and at least offensively, had a nice bounce-back night after being held to one goal in Boston. Defensively, they found themselves out of position too often for coach Guy Boucher's taste, so defense was the emphasis of an intense practice on Tuesday.
"We're not quite on the same page, whatever the reason," defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron told the St. Petersburg Times. "It seems like we kind of forgot over the summer. Now we're back at it. It needs some focus, needs some attention. Guys are realizing now that we just can't show up at the rink and play. We have to be thinking and knowing what we're doing."
Islanders: The first period of the Islanders' Columbus Day matinee against the Wild gave fans a sample of what the Isles can do when they're on their game. Goals by Andrew MacDonald and Frans Nielsen gave the Isles a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. But six penalties in the second and third shackled them, leaving the penalty kill and goalie Al Montoya to preserve the 2-1 win.
Coach Jack Capuano said he was "very happy with the way we came out after Game One, and our play proved that. Everybody that watched us play could see that. But you cannot get yourself into penalty trouble. Five-on-four, then five-on-threes, there's no flow to the game. Your top-minute guys, your offensive guys are on the bench for five or six minutes at a time, which cuts their minutes down from 19 or 20 to 14 or 15.
"We've got to learn to stay out of the box, because you're not going to win many games taking that many penalties. We were fortunate [against Minnesota]. Our penalty kill did a great job and our goaltender was excellent."
Who's hot: Forward P.A. Parenteau picked up assists on both goals Monday, while captain Mark Streit set up Nielsen's goal with a beautiful pass to the right of the net. .. Five different Bolts picked up goals against the Caps on Monday, and 12 players already have at least two points in the first three games. Montoya has looked good so far in goal for the Isles, but Capuano had been tight-lipped about his starter until giving Montoya the nod Thursday morning.
Injury report: One event that influenced Capuano's decision was a hard shot off the stick of Brian Rolston that struck Rick DiPietro's mask in the temple area during practice on Wednesday. DiPietro left the ice immediately and is still being evaluated. Evgeni Nabokov will back Montoya up. … Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund will be out for a month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in both knees on Tuesday. Forward Dominic Moore did not practice Tuesday due to illness.
Stat pack: Montoya had a solid performance against the Lightning last time he faced them, stopping 36 shots in a 5-2 road win March 22. DiPietro is 4-1-0 in his last five starts against the Lightning with a 2.35 goals-against average. … Dwayne Roloson, obtained from the Islanders in a New Year's Day trade, allowed five goals in the loss to the Capitals and four in that loss in March. Backup Mathieu Garon is 3-0-1 with a 1.81 career GAA in five appearances versus the Isles.
Puck drop: Both teams have a lot of tweaking to do early on, but have shown flashes of brilliance here and there. For the Lightning, settling back into the defensive system that got them to the Eastern Conference Final last year tops the agenda, while the Islanders look to put together a complete game.