TAMPA — The Lightning is playing solid 5-on-5 hockey. But in its past two games, its special teams have let Tampa Bay down. That was apparent in the Lightning's 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Saturday at Amalie Arena.
Alex Killorn netted his fourth goal of the year and Anton Stralman scored his second for Tampa Bay (11-11-3).
But John Tavares banged in a power-play goal after Ben Bishop made the initial save with 3:36 left in the game to lift the Islanders.
The loss was Tampa Bay's second straight after losing to the Capitals on Friday. More so, it ended a five-game stretch before a West Coast trip on a sour note after the Lightning had won the first three.
The Lightning did so many good things in this game but not on special teams. Tampa Bay was 0-for-4 on the power play and gave up two power-play goals to the Islanders.
"Clearly special teams was the difference in the game," coach Jon Cooper said. "We play the game 5-on-5, we might have been okay. Special teams let us down a little bit."
The Lightning has given up five power-play goals in its past two games after killing 44-of-49 power plays over the 18 games before Friday.
When the Lightning looks back at Saturday's game, it will also be disappointed in its missed opportunities, especially in the second period. In that pivotal period, Tampa Bay failed to score on two breakaways in two minutes and Steven Stamkos missed a penalty shot that could have helped it regain momentum.
But in the end, it was the power play's shortcomings that upset Stamkos, who assisted on both Tampa Bay goals. The Lightning is 13-of-77 on the power play for the season.
"Good teams score big goals in power-play situations, especially late in the game," Stamkos said. "We had an opportunity (midway through the third period), and it was terrible.
"We can't put all the pressure on the (penalty kill) to kill one off with four minutes left (Erik Condra went off for hooking at 15:31). It shouldn't even be close with chances we had on the power play and lack of execution, lack of whatever you want.
"It's pretty frustrating. How many more wins could we have had this year if our power play could score a goal? It's tough."
It didn't seem like this game would be tough for Tampa Bay, which took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Killorn's goal. It was just the third time this year the Lightning had a lead after the first period.
Tampa Bay went up 2-0 1:39 into the second when Stralman converted a Stamkos backhand pass past Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (29 saves).
But goals by wings Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck tied the score at 2 for the Islanders heading into the third. It remained that way until Tavares' marker.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Killorn 4 (Stamkos, Stralman), 16:20. Penalties—Boychuk, NYI (interference), 11:16; Namestnikov, TB (hooking), 17:31; Okposo, NYI, major (fighting), 18:05; Callahan, TB, major (fighting), 18:05.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Stralman 2 (Stamkos, Filppula), 1:39. 3, N.Y. Islanders, Bailey 5 (Nelson, Strome), 3:51 (pp). 4, N.Y. Islanders, Clutterbuck 5, 16:51. Penalties—Namestnikov, TB (high-sticking), 2:59; Martin, NYI, major (fighting), 4:15; Coburn, TB, major (fighting), 4:15; Bailey, NYI (cross-checking), 17:57.
Third Period—5, N.Y. Islanders, Tavares 11 (Nielsen, Leddy), 16:24 (pp). Penalties—Hickey, NYI (hooking), 2:47; Okposo, NYI (hooking), 11:47; Condra, TB (hooking), 15:31. Missed Penalty Shot—Stamkos, TB, 10:26 second. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Islanders 6-7-9—22. Tampa Bay 9-17-5—31. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Islanders 2 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 4. Goalies—N.Y. Islanders, Greiss 6-3-2 (31 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 9-8-2 (22-19). A—19,092 (19,204). T—2:23. Referees—Mike Leggo, Jean Hebert. Linesmen—Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot.