Islanders rally late, stun Lightning 3-1
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Once the New York Islanders finally figured out 20-year-old goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, doing it again proved to be simple.
John Tavares and Anders Lee scored 12 seconds apart in the third period, after the Islanders had been stymied by Vasilevskiy, and New York stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 with a late comeback Saturday night.
Shut down for nearly 57 minutes by Vasilevskiy, a 2012 first-round draft pick who played in his second NHL game, the Islanders stormed back after falling behind 1-0 on Brett Connolly's goal 9:16 into the third.
Tavares tied it with 3:09 remaining, scoring from the slot while being knocked to the ice, and Lee put New York in front when he deflected in Travis Hamonic's shot.
''Emotion took over,'' Lee said of his seventh goal. ''We felt if we could get one past him, we could get two.''
With No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop out for the third straight game, Vasilevskiy earned the start over former Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov and stopped 45 shots. Vasilevskiy beat Philadelphia in his debut on Tuesday.
''I don't know who the three stars were, but our goalie deserved all three,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Nikolay Kulemin sealed it with 1:11 left on an empty-net goal, seconds after Tavares left when he was struck in the head by a puck. Tavares received stitches, but Islanders coach Jack Capuano said the captain was fine.
Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for the win.
''This is how you have to play to win in this league,'' Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. ''We have a pretty good squad, and we're going to keep working.''
The Islanders (23-10) remained two points behind Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh.
''I think all night we had pep in our step,'' Okposo said. ''You look at our record, we're doing good things. You're seeing the results.''
Tampa Bay is another two points behind, but the Lightning are tied with Montreal atop the Atlantic Division.
Connolly gave the Lightning the lead when he deflected in Tyler Johnson's shot on Tampa Bay's 18th shot.
Tampa Bay, which lost a shootout at New Jersey on Friday, is 2-5-1 in its past eight games. New York also played for the second straight night, following a 2-1 win at Detroit, and extended its winning streak to four.
The first period provided little action until the closing seconds when the Islanders generated pressure during their first power play. Vasilevskiy stopped all 12 shots he faced in the frame.
Halak had much less to deal with, facing only five shots, but he withstood a scare 4:20 in when the Lightning appeared to take a 1-0 lead. During a scrum in front, Brian Boyle kicked the puck in and was awarded a goal on the ice. But a video review clearly showed the puck being sent in by a skate, and the call was overturned.
''Our goalie was great. Kept us going all night. Played a tremendous game,'' Boyle said. ''Connolly gave us a lead but it wasn't enough.''
The Islanders dominated the middle period but had nothing to show for it because of the strong play of Vasilevskiy, who made 17 saves. Halak again was barely tested as the Lightning - the NHL's top-scoring team - generated only four shots, nine total through 40 minutes.
''We had a one-goal lead with 5 minutes to go,'' Cooper said. ''Ultimately our goalie gave us a chance to win but we scored one goal, and it clearly wasn't enough.''
Not only couldn't the Lightning sustain any offensive pressure, they struggled just getting the puck out of their own zone as the Islanders were aggressively forechecking throughout and forced numerous turnovers near the blue line.
''We were outplayed for the most part,'' Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. ''Losing it is obviously tough.
''(Vasilevskiy) kept us in there all game, really gave us a chance. We came close.''
NOTES: Lightning RW Ryan Callahan played in his 500th NHL game. ... Johnson returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game due to illness. RW J.T. Brown was scratched. ... Halak has earned each of the Islanders' last four wins.