TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Carter Verhaeghe scored and the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 15 shots and improved to 16-0-2 in his last 18 starts as the Lightning won their ninth straight home game and improved to 18-2-1 in the last 21 games.
“We are kind of in the dog days of the season, but this is where you want to keep getting points but also see can your team grind it out with a team that plays (defense) and I thought we did that,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “For most part, I thought we were very much in control of that game.’’
Derick Brassard scored for New York, which lost in regulation for the first time in six games. Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots for the Islanders.
New York’s Mat Barzal scored with 37.8 seconds left in the first period, but the goal was overturned on an offside challenge.
Point put the Lightning in front with his 20th goal of the season, just 14 seconds into the second period. Nikita Kucherov picked up a puck that circled the boards and fed Point for a breakaway. Point skated in to the inside edge of the right circle and sent a slap shot past Varmalov, becoming the fourth Lightning player to reach 20 goals this season. He joins Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Kucherov as 20-goal scorers.
Barzal had a chance to tie the game late in the second period as he skated up ice on a partial breakaway, but Anthony Cirelli was able to keep pace with Barzal, who won the Fastest Skater Competition at the All-Star game, and gain leverage to lift Barzal’s stick and strip the puck, preventing a shot attempt.
Verhaeghe put the Lightning up 2-0 at 6:25 of the third period, coming off the left boards with a clear lane to the front of the net. He slipped a backhand shot under the left arm of Varlomov for his sixth goal of the season.
“That was a lack of execution,’’ New York head coach Barry Trotz said. “Two of our forwards didn’t pick up their forwards and we gifted them in the defensive zone. That a was lack of detail that costs us a goal. And that was a huge goal at the end.’’
Brassard put the Islanders on the board at 12:12 as he gained inside position at the top of the crease and pushed a pass from Justin Bailey past Vasilevskiy with five seconds remaining on a power play.
Stamkos scored into an empty net with 62 seconds left to finish the game.
“It was one of those nights that comes down to a couple of plays, we had our chances and they had theirs,’’ Islanders’ captain Anders Lee said. “Other than that, I think overall it’s a solid game. We’ve just got to find a way to put a couple more in and tied it up at the end to force overtime.’’
NOTES: Tampa Bay D Ryan McDonagh (lower body) is out week-to-week after blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot on Thursday. … Lightning D Luke Schenn, a healthy scratch for 16 consecutive games, played for the first time since Dec. 31. … Tampa Bay RW Nikita Kucherov extended his scoring streak to 10 games. … New York D Scott Mayfield, who missed practice on Friday, was in the lineup. … Lightning C Steven Stamkos extended his scoring streak to 10 games.
Lightning: At Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
Islanders: At Washington Capitals on Monday.
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