Series (Game 4 of 4)

New York leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 21st
Game 2: Wednesday, November 17th
Game 3: Wednesday, December 22nd
Game 4: Tuesday, March 22nd

Islanders 5

(29-33-12, 70 pts)

Lightning 2

(39-23-11, 89 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 22, 2011

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
NYI 1 2 25
TB 1 0 12

M. Jurcina (Islanders - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

N. Thompson (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

F. Nielsen (Islanders - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Islanders-Lightning Preview


The Tampa Bay Lightning are headed for their first postseason berth in four years, but they haven't looked like a playoff team of late.

The Lightning try to avoid a third straight loss Tuesday night when they host the New York Islanders, who have posed problems for Tampa Bay this season.

Fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning (39-22-11) could clinch a playoff spot as early as this week. They are 13 points ahead of ninth-place Carolina, and those teams begin a home-and-home series Friday. Tampa Bay, also five points out of the top spot in the Southeast Division, is two up on sixth-place Montreal and three behind fourth-place Pittsburgh in the East.

While the Lightning are in good shape in the playoff race as they seek their first postseason trip since 2007, they've endured a rough March. Tampa Bay has gone 2-4-4 this month and is stumbling home after a 1-0-3 road trip.

Despite earning a point in each game of the swing, the Lightning are troubled by their inability to prevail in three close defeats. They blew a 2-0 lead after two periods to last-place Ottawa on Saturday, getting outshot 18-10 in the third and falling 3-2 in overtime.

"We got five points out of eight (on the road trip)," coach Guy Boucher said. "That's not enough. Every single game on this road trip we could have won."

Tampa Bay totaled seven goals in the three losses.

"I think anytime you lose a game it's frustrating, but for us, we have to look at the adversity we've gone through and find a way to win those games," said goaltender Dwayne Roloson, acquired from the Islanders in January.

Tampa Bay also wasn't able to close out two of its three matchups with New York (28-33-12) this season, falling twice in overtime after failing to protect one-goal leads in both contests. The Islanders took the teams' most recent meeting 2-1 in OT at home Dec. 22.

New York won the first matchup 3-2 in overtime at Tampa on Oct. 21, and the Lightning defeated the Islanders 4-2 on Nov. 17.

The Lightning's offensive woes can be traced to the recent struggles of Steven Stamkos, who leads the NHL with 43 goals but has two in his previous 11 games. With its star not producing, Tampa Bay has scored two or fewer goals in seven of the last 10 contests.

Despite its home loss to the Islanders in October, Tampa Bay has gone 8-0-3 in its last 11 against New York at the St. Pete Times Forum.

New York snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout win over Florida on Saturday. Rookie Michael Grabner scored his 30th goal of the season while Rick DiPietro, making his first start in six weeks, had 29 saves and stopped both shootout attempts.

Michael Haley and P.A. Parenteau also scored in regulation, and Parenteau and Frans Nielsen converted in the tiebreaker.

"It was a big win after going into the third period down 2-1, but we battled back and in the end we got the win and that's all that matters," Grabner said.

DiPietro missed 20 games after sustaining broken facial bones during a fight with Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson on Feb. 2. DiPietro was in net for the October victory at Tampa.

Roloson started the other two games for the Islanders. He has gone 14-9-4 with a 2.55 goals-against average since being acquired by the Lightning.