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New York Islanders 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 1 FINAL

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ The New York Islanders took another step toward making their third straight trip to the playoffs.

Mattias Weinhandl, Justin Papineau and Jason Blake scored third-period goals to lift the Islanders to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Cliff Ronning had two assists for the Islanders, who have a six-point lead over Buffalo for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. New York is 2-3-1-2 in its past eight games.

``At this time of year, it's such a grind to get points because it's a dogfight,'' Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. ``We're not trying to look over our shoulders, but every time Buffalo inches up you can't help it. Anytime you can get two points, it takes a little pressure off.''

Weinhandl tied it at 1 on a wrist shot from the lower right circle that beat Nikolai Khabibulin at 1:30 of the period. Papineau scored on a backhander with 6:54 left, and Blake added an empty-net goal with 45.7 seconds to go.

``I thought the (first) goal was terrible,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said. ``If Nik Khabibulin can't make that save at that point in time where that shot was taken, we're in trouble. If we can't get a save like that come playoff time, then we're in trouble.''

Tampa Bay was coming off a 5-1 loss Saturday to Carolina. John Grahame allowed five goals on 26 shots.

``The last two games our goaltending hasn't helped us at all,'' Tortorella said. ``That's a major concern of mine going into the playoffs.''

Fredrik Modin had the Tampa Bay goal. The Lightning lead Philadelphia by one point for the best record in the East, but have lost two straight, their only two defeats in regulation since Feb. 3.

``I think it's disappointing that we end up losing the game,'' Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. ``It was a pretty even game.''

New York is 3-22-3 when trailing after two periods. Tampa Bay lost for just the second time in regulation when ahead after 40 minutes (29-2-1-2).

``We need to get every point we can,'' Papineau said.

Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro made 19 saves. He made a post-to-post stop on Vincent Lecavalier during a two-on-one late in the second period.

Khabibulin turned aside 20 shots.

Modin scored on a rebound of his own shot following a faceoff 5:42 in. The Lightning are 30-7-4-2 when scoring first.

Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle hit the goal post during a delayed penalty call with 10{ minutes left in the third. Tampa Bay failed to get a shot on the ensuing power play.

``Those are the kind of breaks that when you're working hard you get,'' DiPietro said of Boyle's shot. ``I thought we picked up a lot of momentum after that.''

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