GAME: New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinals; Lightning lead 1-0.
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT.
Coming into Tampa Bay's quarterfinal series with New York, Lightning goalie
Nikolai Khabibulin's goals-against average against the Islanders was his
highest against any opponent.
After his performance in the playoff opener, it seems Khabibulin has finally
solved the Islanders.
Khabibulin and the top-seeded Lightning look to take a 2-0 series lead over
the eighth-seeded Islanders when the teams meet at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Khabibulin entered the series with a 5-9 record and a 3.87 GAA with no
shutouts in 16 career appearances against the Islanders.
But he made 30 saves Thursday in Game 1 for his first playoff shutout since
1997, as the Lightning beat the Islanders 3-0.
"Everything looks easy for him," Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier said.
"Khabby is always composed, always in the right position. That's what makes
him probably the best goaltender in the league."
Tampa Bay's high-powered offense helped the franchise set records for
victories (46) and points (106) on its way to earning the top seed in the East,
but the Lightning scored just six goals in losing three of four to the
Islanders in the regular season.
New York shut down the Lightning's main offensive threats in the regular
season and again in Game 1, but Tampa Bay still came away with a win Thursday.
Andre Roy, who had one goal in 33 regular-season games, scored on his second
shift of the night after playing just 44 seconds in the opening period, and
Fredrik Modin scored twice to lead the Lightning.
"It's not about who scores goals right now. It's about winning and
losing," said Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who was limited to just two shots
after winning the NHL scoring title with 94 points. "If we go all the way and
Andre has 10 goals, then perfect."
The Islanders felt like they outplayed the Southeast Division champions for
much of Game 1, but turnovers in front of young goaltender Rick DiPietro set up
the Lightning's first two goals.
Islanders defenseman Eric Cairns gave away the puck both times - first
trying a pass across the ice that Roy stole before scoring, then losing the
puck as he skated around the back of the net and leaving Modin in position to
score midway through the second period.
DiPietro went 2-1 and allowed four goals in three games against Tampa Bay in
the regular season, but the 22-year-old goalie had only 15 minutes of playoff
experience before Thursday.
"I thought we played a pretty good hockey game. A couple of mistakes cost
us," New York center Dave Scatchard said. "We're down 1-0. But like they say,
it's a best of seven. We've just got to play the same way and maybe capitalize
a little bit more and we'll be OK."
The series moves to New York for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Islanders - 91 points; 8th seed. Lightning - 106 points;
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Steve Webb, 4 PIM. Lightning - Modin, 2
goals and 2 points; Darryl Sydor and Pavel Kubina, 1 assist; St. Louis, 4 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 5).
Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (6 for 7). Lightning - Power play: 14.3 percent
(1 for 7). Penalty killing: 100 percent (5 for 5).
GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (0-1, 3.00 GAA); Garth Snow (no
appearances). Lightning - Khabibulin (1-0, 1 SO, 0.00); John Grahame (no
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 3-1. The Lightning won the first meeting
3-2 on Nov. 20, but the Islanders rebounded to outscore them 11-3 in winning
the last three matchups. Michael Peca had a goal and three assists for New
York, while St. Louis was held to one assist and a minus-4 rating in the