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game recap

Tavares leads Islanders past Lightning

New York captain gets goal, two assists in win against Tampa Bay

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano didn't hold back prior to the morning skate Monday. He questioned the Islanders' work ethic in light of a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday while calling out struggling forwards Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Josh Bailey.  

The Islanders responded Monday night at Barlcays Center with emphatic 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning powered by a goal and two assists from captain John Tavares, and three goals in a 5:15 span of the second period.

It may not have been Capuano's intent to embarrass anyone, but the message was received following the 5-0 loss Saturday. Five different players scored against the Lightning and 10 earned a point for the Islanders (43-26-9), who hold a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Video: TBL@NYI: Tavares beats Bishop's five-hole for PPG

"Since I've been here I've never singled guys out," Capuano said. "The only reason I singled them out is because I care about them. I care about them as people and I care about them as hockey players, and we have to do something to ignite them. We won the hockey game tonight. They know the areas they need to get better and at the end of the day we win or lose as a team and it was a good team win tonight."

New York can clinch a playoff berth with a win at the Washington Capitals or if the Boston Bruins lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in regulation on Tuesday.

"I think as a team, us in here, knew Saturday wasn't good enough and we were embarrassed by it," Tavares said. "I really liked the way we responded and now you have to carry it over to [Tuesday]. That's the real important test, a test of our character on a tough back-to-back against a team that's won the Presidents' Trophy already. We're still fighting hard here, so that's really going to be a great test for us."

Tampa Bay (45-29-5) failed to earn the required point to clinch a playoff berth and remain in second place in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning played their second game without captain Steven Stamkos, who had surgery to treat a blood clot located near his right collarbone Monday and is expected to make a full recovery. He will be re-evaluated in about two weeks and is projected to return in 1-3 months.

Video: TBL@NYI: Nelson beats Bishop with a gorgeous backhand

"Obviously, you want to clinch as fast as you can," Lightning forward Ryan Callahan said. "You want to try to climb in the standings, so it's disappointing. We need to be better. Like I said, I think our effort was there. We put pucks on net and we had some chances. I thought our power play actually had a lot of good chances, a lot of good looks in the third."

The Islanders struck first when defenseman Ryan Pulock carried the puck into the Lightning zone and dropped it to Tavares, who fed Kyle Okposo for a shot that Pulock deflected past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead at 13:18 of the first period.

Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle caught the Islanders in the midst of a line change with an outlet pass to Nikita Kucherov from the blue line. Kucherov found a streaking Alex Killorn, who beat Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss at 2:08 of the second to tie the game 1-1.

New York went ahead 2-1 when Matt Martin received Cal Clutterbuck's pass after Casey Cizikas won a faceoff. Martin's tip went off of Bishop's glove and into the net at 11:00 of the second period.

Video: TBL@NYI: Martin streaks down the wing to beat Bishop

Nelson made it 3-1 after Lightning forward Cedric Paquette skated in alone and was denied by Greiss. Nikolay Kulemin's stretch pass from the Islanders blue line found Nelson, who split two defenders and beat Bishop top-shelf at 15:23 for his first goal in five games and 26th of the season. 

"Nothing is fair," Nelson said regarding Capuano's pre-game comments. "It is what it is. You go out and play. I don't think you can ever be too complacent in this League, but I thought it's been a pretty good year so far, so you just keep going.

"We had a little bit more jump. I think we were pretty decisive in our decision making. I thought we did a good job of attacking."

Video: TBL@NYI: Pulock's deflection gives Isles early lead

Tavares scored his 30th goal when he beat Bishop between the legs 52 seconds later. Victor Hedman responded for the Lightning with 5.3 seconds left in the second to trim the Islanders' lead to 4-2.

Johnny Boychuk's blast from the point made it 5-2 and chased Bishop from the game at 4:28 of the third. Bishop allowed five goals on 23 shots before being replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"This had nothing to do with Ben," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "This had everything to do with the quality of chances we gave up. It's too bad.

"Ben rarely has been pulled since I've been here. They put a five up there and sometimes you have to give your guy a break. This has nothing to do with Ben. Ben's won us too many games. Even if Ben stops two of those, we still lose the game. We can't give up those quality chances."

Video: TBL@NYI: Hedman nets wrister as the 2nd winds down

Greiss made 31 saves for the Islanders to win his third straight start, though he allowed four goals on 51 shots in his past two games after allowing six in a loss to the Lightning on March 25.

Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck appeared to injure his left knee when he fell awkwardly into the boards following a high stick from J.T. Brown. He was helped off the ice before the end of the second period but returned for the third.

New York defenseman Calvin de Haan sustained a lower-body injury blocking Kucherov's shot with his right knee shortly before Pulock's first-period goal. He returned for a shift in the second period but did not play in the third and is unlikely to make the trip to Washington.

"He didn't return so it's not a good thing," Capuano said. "We have our six guys because it doesn't look like Cal's going to play."

The Islanders are 10-2-1 at home since the NHL All-Star Break, outscoring opponents 44-21 over that stretch.

Video: Islanders beat Bolts, 5-2, keep pace in Metropolitan

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