TAMPA — As the shootout Thursday night between the Lightning and Islanders went on and on and on, Tampa Bay defenseman Sami Salo joked that he re-tied his skates on the odd chance he was called on to participate.
Salo did indeed get the tap on the shoulder, in the 13th round, and his first shootout goal in only his third career attempt was the winner in the Lightning's 3-2 win at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"You just try to go in there and make a shot, and it happened to go in," said Salo, who beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a high backhand. "It's not often you get a chance to shoot. It was a nice feeling."
It was the 10th straight game with at least a point for the Lightning (40-24-9), which remained two points behind the Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division. That is an important race. The teams likely will face off in the first round of the playoffs, and the higher finisher will get home-ice advantage.
"A big two points for us," said right wing Ryan Callahan, who scored both Tampa Bay goals, including the tying tally 5:50 into the third period.
The Lightning played poorly through the first two periods against an Islanders team that will miss the playoffs and had 10 rookies on its roster. Its passing was sloppy. It had trouble getting through New York's stout neutral-zone defense and maintained little offensive-zone pressure.
But after killing a 2:34 power play that included 1:08 of five-on-three to start the third period, Callahan tied the score 2-2 off a rebound of Eric Brewer's shot.
"We got two points, but we have to play much better," coach Jon Cooper said. "I just think we weren't that hard to play against."
As for shootouts, the Lightning, 7-6 overall, had lost five of its previous six and had failed on 15 straight attempts. The streak was 16 after Ryan Malone was stopped in Round 1.
But defenseman Mike Kostka scored in the second round, and Ondrej Palat scored in the third. Frans Nielsen and Brock Nelson beat goalie Ben Bishop to match.
Steven Stamkos scored in Round 7 with a pull-up spin-o-rama backhand. Colin McDonald scored for New York. Matt Carle scored in Round 11, as did New York's Casey Cizikas. After Salo scored, Bishop stopped Johan Sundstrom for the 5-4 win.
"It was huge," Salo said of the win. "But moving forward, we have to analyze this game and learn from it. This is not the kind of hockey you want to be playing going into the playoffs."
There are no shootouts in the playoffs, either.
|Lightning wins shootout 5-4|
Second—1, TB, Callahan 14 (Gudas, Filppula), :29. 2, NYI, Strome 5 (Martin, Donovan), 1:33. 3, NYI, Donovan 2 (Nielsen, A.Lee), 9:17. Penalties—Halmo, NYI (interference), 5:33; Kucherov, TB (tripping), 14:12; Stamkos, TB (hooking), 19:41.
Third—4, TB, Callahan 15 (Brewer), 5:50. Penalties—Callahan, TB (tripping), :34; A.Lee, NYI (tripping), 13:42.
OT—None. Penalties—Hamonic, NYI (tripping), 3:51; Clutterbuck, NYI, game misconduct, 5:00. Shootout—NYI 4 (Strome NG, Nielsen G, Nelson G, Bailey NG, Clutterbuck NG, Martin NG, McDonald G, A.Lee NG, Persson NG, Hickey NG, Cizikas G, Halmo NG, Sundstrom NG), TB 5 (Malone NG, Kostka G, Palat G, Callahan NG, Filppula NG, Hedman NG, Stamkos G, Kucherov NG, Purcell NG, T.Johnson NG, Carle G, Killorn NG, Salo G). SOG—NYI 9-12-4-2—27. TB 8-9-10-4—31. PP opps—NYI 0 of 3; TB 0 of 3. Goalies—NYI, Nabokov 13-14-7 (31 shots-29 saves). TB, Bishop 35-11-7 (27-25). A—18,554 (19,204).