The Islanders battled back from a two-goal deficit, but had their hearts broken by a former teammate as they lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Tim Wallace, claimed off waivers by the Panthers on Feb. 23rd, scored the game-winner at 12:10 of the third period to beat his former team, snapping a Steven Stamkos drop pass low stick side on Al Montoya.
“I couldn’t come up with the saves I wanted to come up with tonight,” Montoya said. “Our team played great, it was a weird game from my standpoint. They didn’t bring too much, but when they did, it was quality chances.”
Stamkos, the leagues’ only 50-goal scorer this season, scored Tampa Bay’s first two goals of Saturday’s game. Stamkos backhanded a puck through Montoya’s five-hole in front of the net for his first, and he one-timed a Martin St. Louis pass from the dot for his second.
The Islanders finally solved Dwayne Roloson in the second period after several near misses off the iron. Frans Nielsen picked up a loose puck in front of the net and buried a backhand high on Roloson for a power play goal at 8:15. At the end of the second period, Kyle Okposo tied the score at two, potting a backhand past Roloson with 36 seconds left in the frame.
The Islanders struck early in the third as Matt Moulson scored his 100th career goal to put the Islanders ahead 3-2. Moulson stationed himself in front of the net and tapped in a Mark Streit deflection off of Dwayne Roloson for the milestone goal.
“We had the big goal at the end of the second and a big goal to start the third,” John Tavares said. “You can’t ask for much more. Usually that’s able to carry a lot of momentum and we didn’t sustain it for the third period.”
The Islanders could not hold on to their only lead of the game as the Lightning responded eight and a half minutes later, with Tom Pyatt netting his 11th of the season.
“Systematically we were sound,” Jack Capuano said. “Both goals were three-on-three and that’s a matter of elevating your battle level. They have to look at themselves in the mirror.”
Nielsen’s goal was his 15th of the season, and sets a new career high. With an assist, Mark Streit extends his point-streak to six games (1g/7a). Moulson’s 100th goal came in his 267th career game.
The Islanders wrap up their last trip to Florida of the season Sunday taking on the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center. Puck drop is at 5 p.m.