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Surging Lightning visit improved Islanders

by Matthew Mankiewich /

LIGHTNING (16-18-2) at ISLANDERS (18-16-4)


Last 10: Tampa Bay 5-4-1, New York 5-4-1

Season series: The New York Islanders are looking to sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time since 2001-02, having taken the first two matchups by scores of 4-3 and 2-0. They have won four straight at home against the Lightning and are 9-2-0 in their past 11 home against Tampa Bay.

Big story: The Islanders had to settle for one point on Thursday night when they lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Washington Capitals, but can actually look down the playoff ladder a little bit -- the single point moved them into seventh place in the Eastern Conference at the end of the night. The Lightning come into Nassau Coliseum on a 3-0-1 roll and are six points behind the Islanders.

Team Scope

Lightning: If Thursday's performance is any indication, the trade deadline could be the turning point of Tampa Bay's season. Goaltender Ben Bishop, acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline for rookie forward Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick, stopped 45 shots in a 5-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. In doing so, Bishop tied Darren Puppa's team record for most saves in a shutout and matched Dwayne Roloson's Tampa Bay debut in which he blanked the Capitals 1-0 on Jan. 4, 2011. It was the team's first shutout since Oct. 29, 2011.

"I tried not to put too much pressure on myself and I just treated it like every other game," Bishop told the Lightning's website. "There was a lot of talk, guys did a great job in front of me blocking shots, so I thought it was a really good effort. The key for me was just to keep it simple."

Islanders: Every game is crucial, but the Islanders need to take advantage of the five-game stretch that begins Saturday and includes their final four home games of the season. The 2-8-1 start at Nassau Coliseum is well behind them; they are 5-3-1 on home ice since March 1.

Hopefully for them, Bishop won't have quite as good a night in nets as he or Braden Holtby had Thursday. Holtby stopped 35 shots in game action and all three shootout attempts as the Capitals handed the Islanders their first shootout loss of the season, 2-1 at Verizon Center. Kyle Okposo's goal late in the third period earned the Islanders their point.

"I didn't think we were going to get one by him," coach Jack Capuano said. "We would have liked two [points], but one is better than none."

Who's hot: Lightning forward Alex Killorn has two goals and two assists in his past four games, while Matt Carle has four assists in three. Steven Stamkos has 10 goals and eight assists against the Islanders in 13 games. He and New York's John Tavares are 1-2 in the NHL with 25 and 23 goals, respectively. … Tavares was kept off the board in Washington, but still has five goals and an assist in seven games. Frans Nielsen has a goal and three assists during a three-game point streak.

Injury report: Lightning forward Nate Thompson has served his two-game suspension for an illegal check and will be available to play. Forwards Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) and Ryan Malone (shoulder) remain on injured reserve. … Islanders defenseman Joe Finley is on injured reserve with an undisclosed ailment, as is Brian Strait (broken ankle).

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