TAMPA — There was a stretch during the second period of the Lightning's game with the Islanders on Thursday night when Tampa Bay was pinned in its end for 2 minutes, 49 seconds.
New York had eight shots, the last a goal.
"The legs weren't bending. They were kind of cramping up," said Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin, on the ice the entire time. "It wasn't our best shift."
It may seem nitpicky to focus on a small stretch of Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum, but it was the worst part of a poorly played game.
"I don't even know if that was our B game," coach Rick Tocchet said. "You have to go down a few more (letters)."
Steven Stamkos had three points, including two goals that gave him a team-best 31 and a league-best 13 on the power play. Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier scored in 36 seconds of the second period to overcome a 2-1 deficit, and goaltender Antero Niittymaki made 34 saves as the Lightning (24-21-11) improved to 8-1-2 in its past 11 home games and tied for seventh in the East.
"Hey, listen," Tocchet said, "a win is always great."
"But," Stamkos said, "when you're going to be playing these teams down the stretch, you can't afford those lapses. They're going to cost us eventually."
Tampa Bay was outplayed by the Islanders, who entered with six goals in five straight losses. The low point: the stretch when New York pinned the Lightning in its defensive zone for 2:49, forcing it to intentionally ice the puck to relieve the pressure.
Teams cannot change personnel on intentional icings, so Tampa Bay called timeout to give its players a breather. Didn't matter. The Islanders kept control, and Jon Sim scored 9:12 into the period for a 2-1 lead.
New York was so relentless, the Lightning changed only two players the entire time. For the record, Tocchet wants 35-second shifts.
"It seemed like 24 minutes," Tocchet said. "I thought the (booing) fans were going to come onto the ice. … We have to get better when teams are making a push to make the right little plays. It seems like one guy throws his problem to another guy, who throws it to another guy instead of calming the thing down."
The Lightning finally pushed back. St. Louis' 18th goal came 25 seconds after Sim's. Lecavalier's 15th came 36 seconds later on a two-on-none with Alex Tanguay to make the score 3-2 with 9:37 left.
"It tells you we learned how to win when we're not at our best," Niittymaki said. "If you're going to make the playoffs, you have to win as many B games as you can."
And those down a few more letters as well.
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 30 (Foster, St. Louis), 14:15 (pp). 2, N.Y. Islanders, Moulson 21 (Gervais), 15:26. Penalties—Foster, TB (cross-checking), :23; Kohn, NYI (interference), 13:29; Hedman, TB (hooking), 19:21.
Second Period—3, N.Y. Islanders, Sim 8 (Weight, Park), 9:12. 4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 18 (Stamkos, Downie), 9:37. 5, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 15 (Tanguay, Hedman), 10:13. Penalties—MacDonald, NYI (holding), 13:50; Sutton, NYI (holding), 18:17.
Third Period—6, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 31 (Downie, Lundin), 11:49. 7, Tampa Bay, Tanguay 9 (Veilleux, Lecavalier), 19:22 (en). Penalties—Halpern, TB (tripping), 3:20; Lundin, TB (closing hand on puck), 14:31. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Islanders 14-16-6—36. Tampa Bay 10-15-6—31. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Islanders 0 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 3. Goalies—N.Y. Islanders, Roloson 19-11-6 (30 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Niittymaki 14-9-5 (36-34). A—13,891 (19,758).