TAMPA — Ryan Callahan, who spent eight seasons playing for the Rangers, said it is not quite as emotional an experience facing the Islanders while wearing a Lightning jersey.
But the right wing, acquired from New York this month in the Marty St. Louis deal, said getting two goals against the Islanders in Tampa Bay's 3-2 shootout victory Thursday was just as sweet because it came in the midst of a heated playoff race.
"I've had some emotional games against those guys," Callahan said. "It's a big two points. We'll take it."
Both goals were a blueprint of how Callahan plays; both came from in front of the net
His goal 29 seconds into the second period that gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead was a deflection of Radko Gudas' point shot. His goal 5:50 into the third period that tied the score at 2 came on a rebound of Eric Brewer's shot. But Callahan started the play by outworking New York's Brock Nelson at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
"I went to the net," Callahan said. "I know he's going to shoot it. It's a little bit of luck the rebound coming to me that way."
Callahan has four goals, eight points and is plus-3 in 11 games for the Lightning.
"He makes a living in that area," coach Jon Cooper said. "Wherever there's paint on the ice, he does a heck of a job."
DOGGIN' IT: Though 0-for-3 Thursday, the Lightning power play is 9-for-32 in its past eight games, acquiring the character of a "junkyard dog," Cooper said.
The easy observation is that C Steven Stamkos, with four of those goals since his return from a broken right tibia, has made the difference. But Cooper said it is the Stamkos/Callahan combination that has created the juice.
"You put the shooter in there (Stamkos) and you put a guy in there who is fearless in front of the net (Callahan), and that equates to power-play goals," Cooper said. "Honestly, it's almost as simple as that."
Callahan, "brings another element to us," Cooper said. "In no way am I saying it's all because of (Callahan), but he's a piece of the puzzle we needed. It's given us a little more balance. Before, we were a bit more of a perimeter power play; now we're more of a junkyard dog power play."
SAD SACK: Nikita Kucherov against the Senators on Monday broke a 14-game streak without a goal, but all the rookie wing talked about was his offensive-zone turnover that led to an Ottawa goal. Asked what it would take to make him smile, Kucherov said, "I don't know. I play like (Stamkos), probably, or Sidney Crosby."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Lightning reached 40 wins for the fifth time in franchise history. … C Valtteri Filppula's 10-game points streak (four goals, 10 assists) is tied for the league's longest active. … Owner Jeff Vinik on May 17 will be honored by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay with the Award of Excellence for his and the team's community work. … Forwards Cody Kunyk, Richard Panik and Tom Pyatt, and defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Barberio were scratched.