Lightning host Islanders seeking to stay on winning track
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to record consecutive wins for the first time in nearly a month when they host the New York Islanders in Thursday's test.
The Lightning have gone through some tough times since early February, losing 14 of 19 games during a 5-13-1 stretch. The club won back-to-back games on just one occasion during the swoon, beating Florida and Toronto on Feb. 16 and 19, respectively.
After beginning the season with a 6-1-0 mark, the Lightning have fallen all the way to 12th in the Eastern Conference, where they are currently tied with Buffalo. However, Tampa Bay is still only five points out of a playoff spot.
The Islanders, meanwhile, are 3-1-1 in five games this month and are two points ahead of Tampa in the East standings.
Tampa Bay ended a two-game slide and won for just the second time in nine games with Tuesday's close regulation win at Florida. Steven Stamkos notched his league-leading 20th goal of the season 5 1/2 minutes into the third period and it proved to be the game-winner in the 3-2 decision. The former No. 1 overall pick has tallied in three straight games and has six goals over his last six games.
Martin St. Louis totaled a goal and two assists, with Vinny Lecavalier chipping in a score and a helper for the Lightning.
"All that we have been talking about is getting a win, so we found to get a win," Stamkos said. "Some games you deserve to win and you don't, and some times you don't deserve to win and your goalie keeps you in it and get's you win and tonight we got a win."
Anders Lindback stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced in the triumph and is expected to get another start on Thursday.
The Bolts lost forward Tom Pyatt to an upper-body injury on Tuesday and he is questionable for this contest. Pyatt has five goals and five assists in 26 games this season.
Thursday's tilt against the Islanders marks the start of a three-game residency at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning, who are 6-6-1 as the host this season, will also welcome Carolina and Philadelphia during the homestand.
New York has won two of three and five of its last seven meetings against the Lightning and the Isles posted a 4-3 regulation decision when the clubs met at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 21. Tampa Bay has fared well on home ice in this series, however, claiming two straight and six of the past nine encounters at the Forum.
Despite winning three of five games in March, the Isles have lost two of their last three, including Sunday's 6-1 blowout loss in Pittsburgh. Chris Kunitz registered the fourth hat trick of his career to lead the way for the Penguins in the rout.
Brad Boyes had the lone goal for New York, which had a string of five consecutive tests with at least one point end. Evgeni Nabokov made just 12 saves on 17 chances before being pulled in favor of Kevin Poulin to begin the third period.
"Our discipline wasn't really good," said Isles head coach Jack Capuano. "They've got the fourth-best power play in the league and you can't get behind two or three goals to this team. Right off the bat, the undisciplined penalties we took killed us. We went to the box three straight times and they capitalized on it."
The Islanders fell to 6-4-1 as the guest this season and are playing the middle test of three-game road trip on Thursday. New York will complete the swing Saturday at Florida.
03/14 11:08:54 ET