Under the direction of their newly appointed interim head coach Jack Capuano, the Islanders locker room at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was full of anticipation for Wednesday night’s game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately, due to unnecessary penalties, the Islanders trailed the entire game eventually falling to the Lightning 4-2.
The Islanders took six total penalties and were scored on twice when they were a man down. A slashing call on Josh Bailey and a boarding penalty from Trent Hunter resulted in the first two goals as Steven Stamkos and Brett Clark were able to find openings on the power play.
“I thought special teams was a factor early,” Capuano said. “They got a couple power play goals there early. The one with 3.3 seconds left (in the first) kind of hurt, but we generated some chances and then we had some scoring opportunities, but the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.”
Only John Tavares’ roughing penalty was deserved as he went after Lightning center Mattias Ritola because charged Islanders forward Matt Moulson from behind.
“Any time you take penalties in the offensive zone, they’re going to come back to haunt you and that’s the one thing, we took a couple of those tonight,” Capuano explained. “So when you take stick infractions, especially in the offensive zone, that’s just a situation where you have to keep your feet moving and if he has a step on you, you have to skate, but those are the ones that will come back to haunt you for sure.”
Bailey took full responsibility for the penalties he took, the first of which the resulted in Clark’s goal that brought the Lightning ahead 2-0.
“Those two penalties, I was trying to be hard on the puck,” Bailey said. “When I went in on the play, my stick broke when I went hard on his stick and then the other one I just gave him a push. I didn’t feel like I pushed him that hard, but he was in a vulnerable position obviously the way he went into the wall and it required a penalty.”
Moulson closed the early lead to a one-goal deficit when he scored at 17:26 of the second.
Blake Comeau had the best opportunity to tie up the game with 4:23 left on the clock when he held on to the puck a second too long on the breakaway and lifted the puck into the side of net, despite Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis being out of position.
Tavares also tightened the gap, bringing them within one point (3-2) when he scored with 1:08 left on the clock in the third after the Islanders called a timeout and pulled goaltender Dwayne Roloson for the 6-on-5 advantage.
Roloson kept the Islanders in the game as he faced 40 shots and made 36 saves, but it wasn’t enough for the victory. Martin St. Louis scored Tampa Bay’s third goal at 18:31 of the second and Nate Thompson scored the fourth and final goal on an empty net with just 16 seconds left on the clock.
Even though penalties are what hurt their chance of winning, Capuano still saw many positives from behind the Islanders bench, saying that he felt comfortable in the position especially because he has coached so many of the players before and has a familiarity with the system.
“I think we did a good job in a lot of areas,” Capuano said. “I just wanted them to be loose and have a little fun tonight. They’ve been through a lot. I think it grows on you mentally. We had 36 shots tonight, we come away obviously with just the one goal on the 6-on-5 but we just have to keep battling.”
The Islanders will have a tough couple days of practice before they get their second chance with the Florida Panthers on Saturday at the Nassau Coliseum.
1 - 0 TBL
Martin St. Louis
2 - 0 TBL
2 - 1 TBL
Martin St. Louis
3 - 1 TBL
3 - 2 TBL
4 - 2 TBL
Holding the stick