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May 19, 2019

Islanders take down NHL-best Tampa Bay with ease

January 14, 2019

One day after a tough loss to their crosstown rivals, the Islanders bounced back with a big win against the league-best Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck each had a goal and an assist, Thomas Greiss stopped 38 shots, and the Islanders beat the Lightning 5-1 Sunday night.

On Saturday, the Islanders lost 2-1 at home to the Rangers.

“Yesterday we left the rink with a bitter taste in our mouths and today we did a good job of rebounding and staying the course,” Cizikas said. “It just shows what type of team we are when we play the right way and how successful we can be. When we don’t play the right way, it’s ugly hockey and it’s not pretty. Tonight was a true test and the guys answered.”

Islanders celebrate after scoring on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy Sunday night. (Frank Franklin II / AP)

Brock Nelson, rookie Devon Toews and Josh Bailey also scored as the Islanders had three goals in the opening five minutes and went on to get their 11th win in 14 games. Matt Martin had two assists to give each player on the Islanders’ fourth line two points.

Tampa Bay was 18-1-1 in its previous 20. The Lightning — the NHL leaders in wins (35), points (72) and road wins (16) — lost in regulation for just the ninth time this season, but second in the last five games.

“Going up against the No. 1 team in the league and to keep them to one goal is definitely big,” Cizikas said. “And it definitely speaks volumes to our defense, our goalies and our forwards. It’s definitely a huge win and something that we got to build momentum going into the next one.”

Ryan McDonagh had a goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 23 saves for Tampa Bay.

“It’s tough to spot a team a 3-0 lead in this league,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You’re playing with fire. It cost us.”

With Tampa Bay skating with an extra attacker with the goalie pulled, Greiss — who had 32 stops over the last 40 minutes — made a nice shoulder save sliding to his right on Steve Stamkos with about 4 ½ minutes left to preserve a 4-1 lead.

Bailey scored an empty-netter with 52 seconds left to cap the scoring.

While the Islanders were home for the second straight day, the Lightning were playing on the road for the second night in a row — coming off a 5-3 win at Buffalo.

“It was a big win but they had a tough back-to-back,” Greiss said. “Can’t overthink it and got to be ready for the next one.”

Trailing by three after one period, the Lightning picked up their intensity in the second and outshot the Islanders 22-14.

However, Cizikas pushed the lead to 4-0 with just under nine minutes left in the period as he beat Vasilevskiy from the left side for his 11th.

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McDonagh got the Lightning on the scoreboard with 1:48 left in the middle period, beating Greiss from the left circle for his fifth. Stamkos had an assist on the play, giving him seven assists and nine points in his last six games.

The Islanders went on the power play just 20 seconds in, when Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak was whistled for high-sticking. They took advantage 1:01 later as Jordan Eberle sent a pass from behind the goal line to Vasilevskiy’s right across in front to Nelson, who fired it past the Lightning goalie on the stick side from the right circle. It was Nelson’s 16th, tying him with captain Anders Lee for the team lead.

Clutterbuck doubled the lead at 4:27 with his third of the season, and first since Nov. 15, tipping a pass off Vasilevskiy’s left skate with the puck fluttering in the air over the goal line.

Toews made it 3-0 just 16 seconds later with a slap shot from the left point that gave the Islanders three goals on five shots.

“We drew a penalty, we were able to get a goal and then you follow up and we got a little momentum,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Before they knew it, they were in a little bit of a hole.”

The Lightning didn’t get their first shot on goal until 9:04 in, when Greiss stopped a slap shot by Yanni Gourde.

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