UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Stop it, Ryan Malone said.
Don't even try to suggest there is some kind of weird Bizarro World kind of vibe that overtakes the Lightning when it plays at Nassau Coliseum.
"I'm not going to focus on the building or the team," the Tampa Bay left wing said. "It has nothing to do with it."
Then how do you explain the Lightning's lack of recent success against the Islanders in their barn — or should we just call it the black hole?
After Monday's 4-3 loss, Tampa Bay has lost four straight there while being outscored 16-6.
Remember, we're talking about the Islanders, who haven't been to the playoffs since 2007.
"The most awful games we've played the last two years are here," coach Guy Boucher said. "Why? I don't know."
Tampa Bay (1-1-0) even tried fighting its way out of the slump as on the opening faceoff B.J. Crombeen took on Matt Martin and Pierre-Cedric Labrie tangled with Joe Finley.
The Lightning did make it interesting, coming back from 4-0 down in the third period with a goal by Marty St. Louis, his third of the season, and two in 34 seconds by Ben Pouliot and Steven Stamkos to cut the deficit to one with 12:00 left.
"We showed character again," Stamkos said. "We know we're a team that's never going to quit, but there are cases of too little too late and this is one of them."
Actually, it was a case of hanging Anders Lindback out to dry.
The goaltender made 40 saves as the Islanders had a 44-26 shot advantage, including 16-8 in the second period when they scored three times and the Lightning lost sight of its game plan.
Instead of shooting the puck, Boucher said players tried "to skill it up through the neutral zone, at their blue line. We were just trying to find guys when there was no space. We were just stubborn and stubborn."
Worse, too many players low in the offensive zone and poor defensive zone coverage sprung New York on odd-man rushes. In the second period, Michael Grabner and Matt Martin scored on breakaways (Martin came out of the penalty box) and Kyle Okposo scored on a two-on-one.
Lindback took the blame for the fourth goal, saying he cheated to cover what he expected to be a back-door pass as David Ullstrom roofed a wrist shot.
Even so, Lindback was the only reason Tampa Bay had a chance.
"You can't win when you have to ask your goalie to make save after save on three-on-twos and two-on-ones," Stamkos said. "They had three or four breakaways. That's unacceptable."
More bad news for the Lightning: it visits the Coliseum again on April 6.
View Damian Cristodero's blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
First Period—None. Penalties—Malone, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), :01; Crombeen, TB, major (fighting), :01; Labrie, TB, major (fighting), :01; McDonald, NYI (unsportsmanlike conduct), :01; Finley, NYI, major (fighting), :01; Martin, NYI, major (fighting), :01; Brewer, TB (delay of game), :55; Ullstrom, NYI (high-sticking), 6:53; Carkner, NYI (interference), 14:04.
Second Period—1, N.Y. Islanders, Grabner 1 (Streit, Nabokov), 6:50 (pp). 2, N.Y. Islanders, Martin 1 (Tavares), 16:23. 3, N.Y. Islanders, Okposo 1 (Tavares, Moulson), 17:35. Penalties—Lee, TB (cross-checking), 2:05; Conacher, TB (tripping), 5:14; Brewer, TB (hooking), 5:38; Martin, NYI (holding), 14:16; Aulie, TB (cross-checking), 19:07.
Third Period—4, N.Y. Islanders, Ullstrom 1 (Aucoin, Hamonic), 1:31. 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 3 (Stamkos, Conacher), 2:22. 6, Tampa Bay, Pouliot 1 (Crombeen, Hall), 7:26. 7, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 1 (Conacher, St. Louis), 8:00. Penalties—Thompson, TB (holding), 17:32; Lee, TB (holding), 18:13. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 7-8-11—26. N.Y. Islanders 10-16-18—44. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3; N.Y. Islanders 1 of 7. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Lindback 1-1-0 (44 shots-40 saves). N.Y. Islanders, Nabokov 1-1-0 (26-23). A—15,322 (16,234). T—2:38. Referees—Dennis LaRue, Mark Lemelin. Linesmen—Greg Devorski, Brian Mach.