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Lightning outlast Islanders in marathon shootout

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- It took defenseman Sami Salo's first career shootout goal to end the highest-scoring tiebreaker in NHL history.

Sale scored in the 13th round to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 victory against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

The 39-year-old deked and beat goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with a backhander to give the Lightning their fifth lead of the tiebreaker. Goaltender Ben Bishop ended the game by stopping Islanders rookie forward Johan Sundstrom after allowing goals in each of the previous four rounds in which his team had scored.

The combined total of nine goals scored in the shootout is a record, as are the five goals scored by the Lightning. The 13 rounds are the most in a tiebreaker since Oct. 31, 2008, and are two shy of the record of 15 set by the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in November 2005.

The shootout attempt was a rarity for Salo, who's known more for his booming shot than subtle dekes. He had failed on his two previous career tries.

"This was my first shootout goal," Salo said, "Some nights it goes in and some nights the goalie makes the save."

When Salo got the call to shoot, there were five players left on the Lightning bench that had not had a turn. As the numbers dwindled, Salo got himself ready.

"You have to tie up your skates first, once it appeared I might get a chance," he said. "It's not often that I get a shootout chance, so it's a nice feeling. "

Ryan Callahan had both regulation goals for the Lightning (40-24-9), who remained two points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning have points in 10 consecutive games (6-0-4) and have gone past regulation in each of their past three games.

Ryan Strome and Matt Donovan scored second-period goals for the Islanders (28-35-10). Nabokov finished with 29 saves through 65 minutes; Bishop stopped 25 shots.

Callahan tied the game 2-2 at 5:50 of the third period when he fired home the rebound of a shot by Eric Brewer from just outside the crease for his 15th goal.

"He makes a living in that area," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Callahan, who was acquired from the New York Rangers at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5. "Wherever there is paint on the ice, he does a heck of a job. Clearly, we needed him tonight and he was really good for us."

Some hard work by the Islanders combined with sloppy play by the Lightning in their own end allowed New York to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. Strome and Donovan scored for the Islanders after Callahan deflected a point shot by Radko Gudas past Nabokov to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead 29 seconds into the second period. Valtteri Filppula got an assist on the goal, extending his consecutive game scoring streak to 10 games, during which he has four goals and 10 assists.

That lead held up for 64 seconds, until Strome found some space between Bishop and the right post and slipped the puck past him for his fifth goal. Matt Martin and Donovan assisted.

Donovan put the Islanders ahead at 9:17 when he took a pass from behind the net from Frans Nielsen and beat Bishop from the slot. Anders Lee also assisted.

"The second period was bad," Cooper said. "We come into the second and we scored right away, but they answered right away. That kind of popped our balloon a little bit. Their second goal was a clear breakdown on our part. That's just a product of us being out to lunch a little bit."

Neither team found the net in the first period, but Tampa had the best opportunity when Nikita Kucherov was denied on a 2-on-1 by a left pad save by Nabokov.

John Persson, an emergency call-up from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, arrived in time to start the game in place of Kyle Okposo. The Islanders' leading scorer was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury.

With the addition of Persson, who arrived after warm-ups but just before the game began, the Islanders fielded a team that included 10 rookies, including nine skaters. Their enthusiasm and energy gave Tampa Bay all it could handle.

"We're trying to play hard at this point of the season and we're trying to get better each and every day," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "Quite frankly, that's all we can ask of each other, is to just keep working and keep doing good."

The Islanders earned three points on their two-game road trip and have gone 3-1-1 in their past five games, a sign of hard work that New York coach Jack Capuano appreciates.

"I'm proud of the effort these guys are putting in," Capuano said. "The young guys are working extremely hard and that's all you can hope for from the young guys."

The Lightning visit the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Cooper knows they have to be better.

"First and foremost, we got two points, but we've played much better," Cooper said. "We've played much better and lost. But in saying that though, the boys were down a goal in the third, got the goal and then the shootout, so you have to give them some credit for that. It's the line, 'They are all not a Picasso," but we are going to have to be better than that."

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