NHL Game Summary - NY Islanders at Tampa Bay
(Tuesday, March 16th)
Final Score: NY Islanders 3, Tampa Bay 1
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Justin Papineau's third-period goal was the difference as the New York Islanders skated to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Mattias Weinhandl assisted on the game-winner after scoring earlier in the third to tie it. Jason Blake added an empty-netter to seal the much-needed win for the Isles, who established a six-point lead over Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left to play.
Rick DiPietro needed just 19 saves for his second consecutive victory.
Fredrik Modin registered the lone Tampa Bay goal as the Lightning lost their second straight game on the heels of an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1). With the loss, Tampa Bay failed to give itself some breathing room at the top of the East, remaining just a point ahead of second-place Philadelphia's 94.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 20 shots, but surrendered two goals in the final stanza after blanking New York in the first two.
"We knew going into the third period that if we went out and played hard, you can win a 1-0 game going into the third and that's what we did," said Isles head coach Steve Stirling.
After an uneventful second stanza in which the teams combined for just nine shots, Weinhandl knotted the game at 1-1 with his eighth of the year just 1:30 into the third frame. Taking advantage of a neutral zone turnover, Cliff Ronning skated across the blue line and passed the puck over to Weinhandl, who fired a wrist shot with great precision past Khabibulin's glove.
Papineau notched the go-ahead tally with 6:54 to go off a nifty feed from Weinhandl from the left circle. Weinhandl slid the puck down low to Papineau as he skated across the slot and outwaited Khabibulin to tuck it underneath the netminder into the cage.
"In the second period, they [Ronning's unit] may have been our best line," said Stirling. "They had some jump, and they created some offense. I saw a lot in their line and some of the other lines weren't up to speed for me after two periods."
Tampa Bay pulled Khabibulin for an extra attacker with around a 90 seconds remaining, but it was Blake who found the back of the empty net to close things out with 46 ticks remaining.
Modin netted the first goal of the contest, his 24th, just 5:42 in. It came right off the draw as a stray puck trickled on goal, going off the skate of DiPietro. Unfortunately for the Isles, it bounced right out to the doorstep for Modin, who had no problem putting it home.
Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis was held scoreless, still leaving him one point shy of Brian Bradley's franchise record of 86 points set in 1992-93...Ronning, playing on a unit with Papineau and Weinhandl, registered assists on each of their goals...The Lightning were scoreless in three power-play chances and held the Isles scoreless in its sole opportunity with the extra skater.
03/17 01:02:40 ET