The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Islanders 8-4, Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum. Vincent Lecavalier scored three goals, including two in the third period.
Michel Ouellet scored two goals and added an assist, while Jeff Halpern chipped in with a goal and two assists. Karri Ramo made 20 saves for his fifth win of the season.
The Lightning took a 4-2 lead into the third period, and then blew it open with three goals in 42 seconds.
"We're fragile right now and we're making mental errors," said head coach Ted Nolan. "When you're team is fragile everything has to go right. Any kind of giveaways is going to make the situation worse. We're getting effort from 95% of the guys and those other five are hurting us."
The Islanders also brought a banged up and ill team to Tampa Bay. Andy Hilbert left during warm-ups with an ankle injury, while Ben Walter, replacing a flu-stricken Josef Vasicek, arrived just in time to play in the game, missing warm-ups. Ruslan Fedotenko then left the game with a knee injury.
"We only had three lines," said Nolan. "I didn't know Hilbert was hurt until game time and then Walter gets here two minutes before game time. Colliton also has the flu and Witt probably shouldn't even be playing. We have so many issues right now that are piling up."
A bright spot for the Islanders was Walter, who scored his first NHL goal, while on the power play.
Ouellet put the Lightning up 1-0 after Rick DiPietro was stripped of the puck. Halpern fed Ouellet for a power play goal at 6:51 of the first period. Less than six minutes later, Vincent Lecavalier ripped a slap shot by DiPietro for a 5-on-3 goal.
Guerin used a high wrist from the top of the right circle to make it 2-1 with 2:55 to play in the first period.
The Islanders tied the game at two after Ruslan Fedotenko's breakaway was initially stopped, but then kicked in by goaltender Ramo, 4:16 into the second period.
But the Lightning struck twice in under six minutes to grab a 4-2 advantage. At 9:00 of the second period, Mathieu Darche froze DiPietro before going behind the net and centering to Halpern, who had an empty net to shoot at. Nick Tarnasky then pounced on a loose puck in the slot for a 4-2 game.
Lecavalier scored his second of the game to make it 5-2 on a stuff play while 4-on-4 with 4:58 gone by in the third period.
Walter re-directed Blake Comeau's on an Islanders power play with 9:38 remaining in the third period to cut the lead to 5-3.
From there, the goals came quickly and often. The Lightning went up 8-3 on Lecavalier's third of the game, Ouelett's second and Jason Ward's first.
Mike Comrie scored in the game's final minute to make it a four-goal deficit.
The Islanders go right back to work tomorrow to face the Florida Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center.
Five Stars of the Game: 1. Vincent Lecavalier: Goals 34, 35, 36, 9 shots 2. Michel Ouellet: 2 goals, 1 assist, 6 shots, +2 3. Jeff Halpern: 1 goal, 2 assists, +2, 70% on draws 4. Martin St. Louis: Set-up two of Lecavalier's goals 5. Nick Tarnasky: 1 goal, 4 shots
Slapshots: Andy Hilbert left warm-ups with an ankle injury and did not play. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow…Ruslan Fedotenko left in the third period and did not return. He has a sprained knee and will also be re-evaluated tomorrow…Rob Davison and Nick Tarnasky fought late in the third period.
WITT NOMINATED FOR THE MASTERTON TROPHY
Defenseman Brendan Witt is this year's Islanders nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given by the Professional Hockey Writers Association to reward players who have exemplified perseverance and dedication to hockey.
Playing against the opposition's top lines every games, Witt's sacrifice has been unparalleled. He leads the team with 131 blocked shots and is second in hits with 132. His 21:41 of ice time per game ranks only behind defense partner Radek Martinek.
In almost two full seasons with the Islanders, Witt has been one of the hardest working players. Despite using his body like a human shield blocking pucks and clearing the crease, Witt has an uncanny ability to bounce back from injuries, making him well respected by the coaching staff and his teammates.
Click here to access Greg Logan's Newsday article on Witt's nomination.
81 Miroslav Satan- 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 10 Richard Park – 7 Trent Hunter
15 Jeff Tambellini – 57 Blake Comeau - 20 Sean Bergenheim
72 Jeremy Colliton – 29 Ben Walter
Goaltenders 31 Karri Ramo
41 Mike Smith
2 Alexandre Picard - 22 Dan Boyle
54 Paul Ranger - 71 Filip Kuba
39 Mike Lundin - 55 Shane O'Brien
10 Jussi Jokinen - 4 Vincent Lecavalier - 26 Martin St. Louis
21 Mathieu Darche -11 Jeff Halpern - 7 Michel Ouellet
61 Karl Stewart - 16 Jason Ward - 24 Andreas Karlsson
29 Craig MacDonald - 74 Nick Tarnasky - 42 Junior Lessard
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage tonight’s game.
PLAY HOCKEY IN CHINA!
Sell the most fundraising Islanders-Penguins tickets for March 24 and win an all-expense paid trip to China for your house league pee wee team to represent the United States in the first Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope tournament in China!
Would you like to bring your house league pee wee hockey team to China as a guest of the New York Islanders Children’s Foundation?
Would your pee wee team like to represent the United States in the first Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope tournament in China?
This incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can be a reality!
For house league peewee teams across Long Island, the Islanders are offering blocks of $50 tickets to the Islanders-Penguins game on Monday, March 24 to groups for just $20 each. The group that sells the most tickets will win a spot in the Project Hope Tournament in China with all expenses paid!
To have your house league pee-wee team participate in this exciting opportunity, please call the Group Sales department at 1.800.882.ISLES ext. 3 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past three years, the Islanders and Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope have hosted pee wee hockey teams from China, with the past two years culminating in international tournaments right here on Long Island. Project Hope and the Islanders Children's Foundation will turn the tide in July of this year.
The trip includes airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, site-seeing opportunities and tournament fees for 25 people. The tournament will take place in the cities of Beijing, Harbin and QiQihar.
"What a great opportunity this is not just for the kids to go to China, but to also get involved with the Islanders," said Director of Hockey of the Nassau County House League Mark LaMarr, whose pee wee team is making strong push to earn the big prize. "When we took this idea to the parents and players, every person was very excited. Our families have put in a tremendous effort to raise the money. It's great to see the kids working so hard for this off-ice project. These kids come from all different towns of Nassau County and they unite under a common bond. It would be a privilege for any of Long Island’s teams to serve as U.S. ambassadors at the Project Hope tournament in China.”
The Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope Tournament in China is a cultural exchange and goodwill tournament that will be an unbelievable experience for everyone involved.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime that shouldn't be passed up.
So far, teams from the following rinks are already off and running, selling tickets to the March 24 Islanders game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.