TAMPA — It was difficult to know exactly what to make of the Lightning's 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Coach Jon Cooper said his team played well, and there was plenty to indicate it did.
Tampa Bay gave up just three shots in the third period and, by Cooper's count, limited New York to one scoring chance in the first period and third.
It just couldn't get much going offensively.
You could say the Islanders made things difficult by not giving much time and space. But goaltender Ben Bishop put the onus on the Lightning.
"We had our chances to put them away, and we didn't," he said. "We have to put them away when we have a chance. We let them hang in there."
The bottom line is Tampa Bay (28-15-5), though it got a point for the regulation tie, lost its fourth straight home game and fell to second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Bruins.
What a strange game.
In addition to the uneven play, the lack of flow, off-the-mark passes and bouncing pucks, both teams had 30 shots, which meant Bishop and New York's Kevin Poulin each had 29 saves.
Both teams had 21 hits and won 33 of the game's 66 faceoffs. Both scored on the power play, with the Lightning's Marty St. Louis getting his 21st goal in the first and Thomas Vanek tying it with 1:38 left in the second.
And both hit posts in the third period: Victor Hedman with a backhand and New York's John Tavares with a wrist shot.
Take all that into consideration and, as Cooper said, "That one was probably fitting it came down to a shootout."
That is where the Islanders had the edge, as Frans Nielsen was the only successful shooter.
There also was that nagging feeling Tampa Bay should have done more.
"I just think there were chances we passed up," Cooper said. "Any time you get a shot on goal, there's a chance the goaltender is going to save it. But it's the ones you don't take, that's the ones that leave you wondering.
"We had chances to score but we didn't," Cooper added. "We either missed the net or he made the save or we just made that extra pass we shouldn't have. That's why you only score one."
And that is why Bishop was frustrated.
"We had chances in the third but we can't score," he said.
"I thought we played a pretty good game, we just need to put teams away like that."
|Islanders win shootout 1-0|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 21 (Filppula, Johnson), 5:45 (pp). Penalties—Strait, NYI (delay of game), 5:03; Palat, TB (holding), 7:25; Okposo, NYI (tripping), 13:50; Hedman, TB (high-sticking), 18:24.
Second Period—2, N.Y. Islanders, Vanek 17 (Nielsen, Tavares), 18:22 (pp). Penalties—McDonald, NYI, major (fighting), 8:52; Brewer, TB, major (fighting), 8:52; MacDonald, NYI (hooking), 12:56; Purcell, TB (interference), 13:38; Hedman, TB (high-sticking), 18:17.
Third Period—None. Penalties—None.
Shootout—N.Y. Islanders 1 (Nielsen G, Vanek NG), Tampa Bay 0 (Filppula NG, Kucherov NG, Hedman NG). Shots on Goal—N.Y. Islanders 10-13-3-4—30. Tampa Bay 12-8-8-2—30. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Islanders 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 3. Goalies—N.Y. Islanders, Poulin 10-13-0 (30 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 23-5-4 (30-29). A—18,333 (19,204). T—2:42.