Sure, the NHL's reigning MVP and scoring champion had gone eight
games without a goal, but St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning had
a matchup against New York -- a team they own lately.
St. Louis scored the tying goal with 1:12 left in regulation and
then set up Vincent Lecavalier's breakaway winner in overtime that
gave the defending Stanley Cup champions a 3-2 victory Monday
That tied the game at 2 and only set up more drama in overtime.
Usually, St. Louis scores winning goals against New York. He had
done it in four straight matchups, including an overtime tally in
Game 5 that ended the 2004 opening-round playoff series -- Tampa
Bay's first step toward the Stanley Cup title.
"I felt we had control of the game," St. Louis said. "We just
had to keep pushing, and it paid off."
In all three games against the Islanders this season, he has
scored the tying or winning goal in the closing minutes.
New York nearly won it as the clock ticked down in the final
minute of overtime but Mark Parrish's rebound shot was blocked in
front by Darryl Sydor. Pavel Kubina moved the puck out to St.
Louis, who found Lecavalier streaking alone at center ice.
He came in on DiPietro, deked him onto his back and beat him
with a shot past his glove with 54.5 seconds showing on the clock.
"I think he thought I was going on my backhand but I stayed
with my forehand," Lecavalier said.
Lecavalier missed Saturday's home victory over Washington
because of an upper body injury but came back in time to foil the
Islanders. He said he felt OK and was pleased his legs weren't too
tired following a five-day layoff.
"We got the win and that's the most important thing,"
Lecavalier said. "It wasn't our best game."
Tampa Bay improved to 8-1-1 in its last 10 and beat New York by
one goal for the third time this season. The Lightning have won six
straight against the Islanders, dating to the 2004 playoffs.
Fredrik Modin put the Lightning in front 1-0 just 1:22 in and
Burke finished with 28 saves.
Blake tied it with 5:46 left in the second period with his 20th
goal. York put the Islanders in front 9:19 into the third with his
11th. He came in with just one goal in 20 games.
New York lost for the second time in three games following a
season-best, three-game winning streak.
"We certainly played well enough to win, but we have to learn
how to finish," York said. "If we were the ones down and tied it
late, it would be a good point, but this was disappointing."
After the Islanders put early pressure on Burke, Tampa Bay
turned the tide.
Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger charged into the slot from the
left point to get to the puck. He wound up for a big drive but
instead found Modin alone at the left post for an easy redirect
Tampa Bay had three power-play chances in the opening period
against the NHL's worst home penalty killers but couldn't generate
much offense. The Lightning held only an 8-6 edge in shots through
They even started the second period with a man up, but the
Islanders got the better of the scoring chances then, too. Only
Burke, who has been in a steady goalie rotation with John Grahame,
kept the Lightning in it when New York held a 14-6 shots advantage.
Blake whiffed on a shot, and the puck slid to the side of the
net to Miroslav Satan. He moved it to York, who was just inside the
right circle, for a quick shot that deflected off Blake and in.
New York took the lead when Satan made a long lead pass to Brent
Sopel, who found York in the left circle.
"Except for one breakdown, we played real well," Satan said.
The Islanders activated G Garth Snow from the injured list
after he missed 14 games because of sprained ligaments in both
knees. New York sent down G Wade Dubielewicz and C Jeremy Colliton
to Bridgeport of the AHL and recalled C Wyatt Smith. ... Islanders
D Alexei Zhitnik missed his third straight game due to a sprained
ankle. ... Grahame and DiPietro make up two-thirds of the U.S.
Olympic goalie staff.