NEW YORK — After sweeping the three-game season series with the Islanders in convincing fashion Monday, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos put it simply:
"I'm sure they're happy to be done with us," he said.
In its season of inconsistency, Tampa Bay has played some of its best hockey against the Islanders, including a 4-0 win at the Barclays Center on Monday. It was the Lightning's third victory over New York in two weeks, by a combined score of 14-2. Dating back to last year's second round playoff series, Tampa Bay has beaten the Islanders seven straight.
"I wish we could play them more," wing Nikita Kucherov said, smiling.
Kucherov has feasted on the Islanders, and did it again Monday with a goal and an assist. His line with Stamkos (two assists) and Vladislav Namestnikov continued to display impressive chemistry. Stamkos and Kucherov are now both in the top-five in the NHL in scoring.
"When they're going, it's a lot of fun," coach Jon Cooper said.
A common theme in the Lightning's three wins over New York? Its starts. Tampa Bay has scored first in each of the meetings; in its other 13 games, it has struck first three times. On Monday, it came in a flurry, J.T. Brown and Ryan Callahan scoring 42 seconds apart in the final minute of the first. It could have been more, but Kucherov hit the crossbar in the waning seconds.
"I'm sure (for the Islanders) it was a little, 'Here we go again,' " Cooper said.
Kucherov would finally cash in late in the second period, finishing off a highlight-reel give and go with Stamkos.
The dynamic duo was at it again minutes later, setting up Namestnikov for a goal to make it 4-0. The Lightning owned the second period, partly due to having four power plays, including a four-minute one. Tampa Bay didn't score, but created momentum and wore the Islanders down.
Stamkos felt the Lightning sat back in the third, and New York racked up 20 shots. But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was outstanding with 34 saves, recording his third career shoutout and improving to 4-1 in six starts this season.
"The two points are most important," Vasilevskiy said. "The shutout was a little bonus."
These two points were big to open a five-game road trip for the Lightning (9-6-1), which resumes play tonight in Detroit. Tampa Bay hopes to play like this against someone other than the Islanders.
"It's just one of those things, you get on a roll against a team and you hope you can keep it going," Cooper said. "I've been on both sides of this. It's tough when you're on the other side."
Just ask the Islanders.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Brown 2 (Paquette, Coburn), 18:58. 2, Tampa Bay, Callahan 1 (Hedman, Sustr), 19:40.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 6 (Stamkos), 14:24 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 3 (Stamkos, Kucherov), 17:02 (pp).
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 10-17-4—31. N.Y. Islanders 10-4-20—34.
Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 5; N.Y. Islanders 0 of 4.
Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 4-1-1 (34 shots-34 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Halak 3-5-3 (31-27). A—12,498 (15,813).