UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Goaltender Mike McKenna was not going to comment too much on how he played during the Lightning's 3-1 loss to the Islanders Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
"We didn't win the game," he said, "so it's a moot point."
Tampa Bay is in a tough spot with its goaltending. No. 1 Mike Smith is out with an upper-body injury. Backup Olie Kolzig is out for the season after surgery on his left arm, and Karri Ramo was pulled against New York after allowing three goals on four shots in a span of 3:25 of the second period.
So give McKenna credit for stopping 11 shots in his NHL debut after being thrown into the game 9:52 into the second period with no warmup and the team trailing 3-0.
"That's probably the way a lot of guys get into their first game," McKenna said. "You have to be ready for it."
"I thought he did well," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He made a couple of nice saves."
That is about all that went right for the Lightning (17-24-10), which lost its third straight.
It was Tampa Bay's third straight loss at the Coliseum, too, and Vinny Lecavalier's power-play goal 3:05 into the third ended a six-period drought here of 175 minutes, 52 seconds.
It was the Islanders' fourth straight win. Even so, with New York being statistically the league's worst team, it was, as Marty St. Louis said, "a game we had to have."
But Ramo, given the start over McKenna because he has more NHL experience, did not play well.
He got little help in a second period in which the Islanders outworked Tampa Bay and had a 14-10 shot advantage.
Still, two of New York's three goals were weak.
After Trent Hunter scored on a deflection 6:27 into the second, Mark Streit tallied from the high slot at 8:29 on a shot which Ramo said he stopped but then knocked into the net himself.
Radek Martinek scored his first goal in 102 games on the short side from the right-wing boards at 9:52.
Ramo was in a difficult situation. Between callups to Tampa Bay and serving three games of a six-game AHL suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation, he had not played since Jan. 23 for Norfolk.
"I've been having a lot of time off this year, so I should be used to it," said Ramo, who is in his fifth tour with the Lightning as has played just 30 games total. "That's not an excuse. I should be ready to play during the season all the time. Sometimes it goes this way. I have to keep battling."
McKenna, 25, signed Monday off Norfolk's roster to a two-way contract for the rest of the season, did just that.
McKenna said the speed of the game, not the speed of the shots, was what he needed to get used to, and his best save came with 4:30 left in the third when he dropped to his knees and stopped Andy Hilbert on a three-on-one.
"The jitters didn't last very long," he said. "After the first save, I felt great."
Asked if McKenna will start tonight at Pittsburgh, Tocchet was non-committal but said, "I have no problem with him going to in the nets."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com.
First Period—None. Penalties—Hunter, NYI (hooking), 1:20; Eminger, TB (hooking), 4:17; Comeau, NYI (roughing), 9:49; Lecavalier, TB, major (fighting), 10:55; Jackman, NYI, major (fighting), 10:55; Meszaros, TB (high-sticking), 11:47.
Second Period—1, N.Y. Islanders, Hunter 13 (Nielsen, Okposo), 6:27 (pp). 2, N.Y. Islanders, Streit 9 (Weight, Comrie), 8:29. 3, N.Y. Islanders, Martinek 1 (Park, Witt), 9:52. Penalties—Lecavalier, TB (hooking), 6:08; Okposo, NYI (high-sticking), 10:22.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 23 (Recchi, Murphy), 3:05 (pp). Penalties—Hunter, NYI (holding), 1:07; Martinek, NYI (slashing), 1:28; Prospal, TB (slashing), 3:51; St. Louis, TB (high-sticking), 15:45; St. Louis, TB (cross-checking), 18:05; Campoli, NYI (interference), 18:18; Witt, NYI (tripping), 19:52. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 11-10-9—30. N.Y. Islanders 7-14-6—27. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 6; N.Y. Islanders 1 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ramo 1-2-0 (16 shots-13 saves), McKenna (9:53 second, 11-11). N.Y. Islanders, Danis 4-5-1 (30-29). A—9,808 (16,234). T—2:20. Referees—Paul Devorski, Ghislain Hebert. Linesmen—Brian Murphy, Pierre Racicot.