The New York Islanders continued the momentum from their road trip, returning home to Long Island and defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. New York Islanders goaltender Al Montoya played a great game, surrendering only one goal on 24 shots. The Islanders as a whole played what might have been their best game of the season; from top to bottom, every player seemed to contribute to the victory.
The Lightning were the first to put points on the board when Martin St. Louis deflected a slap shot from teammate Brett Clark past Montoya at 6:55 in the first. The goal was St. Louis’ 800th career NHL point. The Islanders answered the Lightning’s goal with three of their own in the first period, and never looked back. John Tavares put the Isles on the board at 14:01 when he netted a wrist shot over the glove of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon after a beautiful set-up by teammates Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson. The goal broke his 13-game scoring drought and gave the Islanders new life.
Minutes later, at 18.26, New York Islanders right wing call-up Tim Wallace – making his season debut – found left wing Matt Martin in front of the net. Martin blasted the puck just past Garon’s glove to give the Islanders a lead they’d never relinquish. Lightning center Nate Thompson gave the Isles a power play after a boarding call at 19:06, and tic-tac-toe passing by Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen and Mark Streit set up a pinching Milan Jurcina for a wide-open shot past Garon.
When the Isles took the ice in the 2nd they held command of the game and didn’t let up. Excellent play by both Al Montoya and the Isles’ defensemen frustrated the Lightning when they couldn’t capitalize on 11 shots on goal and two power plays during the second period.
The game remained 3-1 until 3:19 in the third period, when New York Islanders left wing David Ullstrom scored his first NHL goal in only his seventh game, thanks to a beautiful drop pass by Josh Bailey that caught Garon by surprise. Shortly afterwards, Bailey went to the net, picked up the puck, and brought it to Ullstrom during the celebration on the ice that had the Islanders’ fans on their feet.
Even after being up 4-1, the Islanders’ offense still wasn’t done. Lightning center Steven Stamkos took a cross-checking penalty at 16:17 that gave the Isles a power play. The Islanders’ power play unit came on the ice much to the dismay of the trailing Lightning and capitalized once again. It started out when John Tavares, deep in the Lightning zone, tried working his way to the blue line. Lightning center Dominic Moore poke checked the puck away towards the net, right in front of Moulson, who buried the puck in net with a beautiful snap shot. Garon was deeply upset by giving up the fifth and final goal at 17:25, and started smashing his stick against the goal post.
This was Tampa’s fifth consecutive loss.