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Lightning hand Islanders 11th consecutive loss, 4-2

by John Kreiser
Not even a coaching change was enough to get the New York Islanders out of their slump.

Jack Capuano's first game behind the Isles' bench ended the same way as the last 10 for Scott Gordon, the man he replaced on Monday. Dan Ellis made 34 saves and Martin St. Louis had a goal and a pair of assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat New York 4-2 on Wednesday night, handing the Isles their 11th consecutive loss.

It's the Islanders' longest stretch without a victory since they had an 11-game skid under Mike Milbury in 1998-99. They haven't won since their last game against the Lightning, a 3-2 overtime victory at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21, and have scored just 10 goals in their last nine games -- matching the 1972-73 team for the fewest goals in a nine game stretch in franchise history.

"When you don't get chances, you get a little worried, but I thought the zone time that we had, the faceoffs that we won, the offense that we created ... we had a lot of zone time," Capuano said. "Obviously, when you get as many power plays as we had and you don't score ... (but) I thought it was pretty good tonight, even though we didn't get a goal on it."

The Isles did show a little more life than they had under Gordon, who was let go on Monday, even if the result was the same.

"I just wanted them to be loose and have a little fun tonight," Capuano said. "They've been through a lot. I think it grows on you mentally. We've just got to keep battling."

The victory was a welcome one for the Bolts, who came to Long Island having dropped three in a row and six of their last seven -- and go to Philadelphia for a game against the red-hot Flyers on Thursday.

"We played with a lot of desperation," NHL scoring leader Steven Stamkos said.

The Lightning waited until the last possible instant of the first period to take the lead. Stamkos snapped home a rebound for his League-leading 16th goal with :00.3 remaining. It was the last of Tampa Bay's 19 shots in the opening period.

"We knew the situation, and it was unfortunate they got a break like that," Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson said. "When things are going bad, those things are going to happen. You've got to forget about it, and that's what we did. We went out and played."

The Islanders were unable to capitalize on a three-minute power play that resulted after Mattias Ritola drew a major penalty for charging Isles forward Matt Moulson -- New York's John Tavares drew a roughing minor on the play. But Tampa Bay did take advantage of Trent Hunter's boarding penalty when Clark got his stick on St. Louis' straightaway slap shot and deflected it past Roloson.

"We were opportunistic, but we had a lot of chances where we weren't opportunistic," St. Louis said of the Lightning, who had 40 shots. Roloson made 36 saves.

New York started putting more pressure on Ellis in the final minutes of the period and was rewarded at 17:26 when Zenon Konopka's passout found Moulson coming through the left circle. He quickly zipped a shot past Ellis for his seventh of the season to get the Isles on the board.

Hunter beat Ellis cleanly with a blast from the right circle nearly eight minutes into the third period but drilled the post. Blake Comeau was sent in alone by Josh Bailey with 4:35 left and deked Ellis to the ice, but hit the side of the net with his shot.

"I outwaited him, but the puck rolled up on me and I missed the net," Comeau said. "He was down and out. I'd do the same thing again."

St. Louis one-timed Steve Downie's pass behind Roloson with 1:29 remaining, and that proved to be the winner when Tavares backhanded a rebound into a half-empty net 19 seconds later, after the Isles had pulled Roloson for a sixth attacker. Ex-Islander Nate Thompson hit the empty net with 15.5 seconds left for the final margin.

"It's huge for us to get a win on the first game of a road trip," Ellis said.
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