TAMPA — The Lightning was not going to let a little thing like a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders spoil its evening — not completely, anyway.
Yes, the team fell to 0-2-2 with its fourth one-goal loss. And the deciding goal, Trent Hunter's second of the game, came after a bad giveaway behind the net by goaltender Olaf Kolzig.
But for a team that had not shown much of anything in three previous games, scoring three third-period goals to erase two deficits was something on which to hang its hat.
The point for the regulation tie after trailing 2-0 entering the third period Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum wasn't bad, either.
"It's a sign," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "We didn't give up on home ice. As bad as it sounds, the overall result, it's a huge last period to build on."
Prospal had an assist and power-play goal with 7:58 left in the third that tied the score 2-2. Vinny Lecavalier had a breakaway goal. Ryan Malone's goal with 5:03 left made the score 3-3 just 66 seconds after Hunter put New York ahead.
Tampa Bay also got a huge lift from defenseman Paul Ranger, who played his first game since April labrum surgery on his right shoulder.
Ranger played 23:46. He played special teams and though he was minus-2, he was solid defensively and seemed to settle what has been a skittish blue line.
"Ranger was fantastic," coach Barry Melrose said. "He made good passes. He didn't panic. He settled the other guys down, and they started doing it. You can just see the difference in our defense."
It showed on the penalty kill, which succeeded eight of nine times as Tampa Bay, caught up in the NHL's crackdown on obstruction and stick fouls, was called for 10 minor penalties compared to seven for the Islanders.
The high point was a 2:47 kill, including a 1:15 five-on-three, late in the second period to preserve the 2-0 deficit.
"We could have buried our heads, and this could have really got ugly," Kolzig said. "But we dug deep and found a way to get it to overtime. We would have loved to have won the game, but you look at it and take baby steps."
Kolzig's mistake overshadowed an otherwise solid 32-save effort as the teams tied 36-36 in shots.
The goalie was behind the goal line after Marty St. Louis, engaged on the side boards, sent the puck off the side of the net. Kolzig gave the puck right to New York's Frans Nielsen, who passed to Hunter, who shot into an empty net 51 seconds into the extra period.
"I wasn't expecting a pass. But I probably got handcuffed a little bit, and I didn't get any kind of power on the play," Kolzig said. "(Nielsen) just intercepted it and threw it in front of the net. Obviously, it's one you want to have back and make a different play with it."
Even so, "There was energy on the bench," Melrose said. "They were cheering for each other. They were patting each other on the back. We were really battling together. That's the effort we have to have for 60 minutes. If we do that, then we'll really like the results."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.
First Period—1, N.Y. Islanders, Comrie 2 (Okposo, Gervais), 2:47.
Second Period—2, N.Y. Islanders, Weight 2 (Guerin, Nielsen), 13:54 (pp).
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 2 (Prospal, Meszaros), 3:43. 4, Tampa Bay, Prospal 1 (Meszaros, Krajicek), 12:02 (pp). 5, N.Y. Islanders, Hunter 3 (Tambellini, Comrie), 13:51. 6, Tampa Bay, Malone 1 (Jokinen, Niskala), 14:57.
Overtime—7, N.Y. Islanders, Hunter 4 (Nielsen), :51. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Islanders 10-14-11-1—36. Tampa Bay 11-12-13-0—36. Goalies—N.Y. Islanders, J.MacDonald. Tampa Bay, Kolzig. A—14,420 (19,758).