Lightning 4, Islanders 2

New Islanders coach Jack Capuano changed the message, he just

couldn’t alter the outcome.

Capuano made his NHL coaching debut behind the New York bench on

Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, hoping to snap the

club out of the funk that cost Scott Gordon his job.

While the effort was the good, the result was the same. The

Islanders fell 4-2 to the Lightning and absorbed their 11th

straight defeat. It is New York’s worst rut since they dropped the

final 11 games under former coach and general manager Mike Milbury

in the 1998-99 season.

”We did a good job in a lot of areas,” said Capuano, promoted

on an interim basis from Bridgeport of the AHL on Monday. ”I just

wanted them to be loose and have a little bit of fun. They have

been through a lot, and I think it grows on you mentally.”

Steven Stamkos scored his NHL-leading 16th goal and added an

assist to wreck Capuano’s first night.

The Islanders (4-11-3) returned home from a three-game

California trip that produced only one point and had their skid

extended to 0-10-1. New York, which got goals from Matt Moulson and

John Tavares, hasn’t won since beating Tampa Bay on the road on

Oct. 21 – a 3-2 overtime victory. The Islanders have a league-low

11 points.

”I felt a lot more comfortable out there,” forward P.A.

Parenteau said. ”When a coach tells you to go out there and play

and have fun, you don’t think as much, you’re not worried as much.

I think it helps, but we didn’t come up with a win. We’re going to

have to find ways to make that happen soon.”

New York nearly tied it with 4:23 left, but Dan Ellis went down

to deny Blake Comeau’s in-close chance with his pad. Comeau went

back to the bench after his shift and smacked his stick against the

boards.

Martin St. Louis sealed the victory with 1:29 left, one-timing a

circle-to-circle pass from Steve Downie into the open right side of

the net. Tampa Bay needed that one because Tavares brought the

Islanders within a goal again with 1:08 to go.

But the lead grew to 4-2 with 15.5 seconds remaining when former

Islanders forward Nate Thompson scored into an empty net.

”We were opportunistic, but we had a lot of chances where we

weren’t opportunistic,” St. Louis said of the Lightning, who had

40 shots.

Stamkos staked the Lightning to a 1-0 advantage with his

league-leading eighth power-play goal, scored with only 0.3 seconds

left in the first period. The green light lit and the horn

signaling the end of the frame blared, but a video review showed

that Stamkos’ shot hit the net in the nick of time.

”We knew the situation, and it was unfortunate they got a break

like that,” Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson said. ”When things

are going bad, those things are going to happen. You’ve got to

forget about it, and that’s what we did. We went out and

played.”

Stamkos, who has 30 points in 18 games this season, also

assisted on defenseman Brett Clark’s power-play goal in the second.

That was enough to help the Lightning break a three-game losing

streak and give them their second win in seven contests.

”We played with a lot of desperation,” Stamkos said.

Ellis started in the Lightning net for the fourth time in five

games and made 34 saves for his fifth win. Tampa Bay had lost five

straight on the road (0-4-1) but began a three-game trip on a high

note.

”It’s huge for us to get a win on the first game of a road

trip,” Ellis said.

Capuano was 6-10 at Bridgeport before the callup to replace

Gordon, who was early into his third season behind the Islanders

bench. New York played at home for just the second time in eight

games and sixth in 18 overall this season.

But their offense continued to struggle. The Islanders have led

only once during the losing streak and have scored two goals or

fewer nine straight times. Roloson started over franchise goalie

Rick DiPietro for the sixth consecutive game and kept New York in

this one by making 36 saves. He stopped 18 shots in the first

period and 31 through two.

Stamkos beat the clock at the end of the first when a rebound

popped to him near the left post and he smacked the puck past

Roloson while Josh Bailey served a slashing penalty.

After New York forward Trent Hunter was called for boarding

against Johan Harju in the second, the Lightning made the Islanders

pay again. St. Louis fired a shot that Clark deflected in the slot

for his third goal with 7:11 remaining in the period.

Moulson cut the Islanders’ deficit in half, scoring his seventh

of the season with 2:34 left in the second.

NOTES: New York fell to 6-10-2 in its first game under a new

coach. … The Lightning won for the first time since captain

Vincent Lecavalier broke his right hand last Thursday at

Washington. He had surgery on Monday and is expected to miss four

to five weeks. … Tampa Bay scored only one goal in each of the

previous two games and 13 in their 1-5-1 skid. … The Lightning

have recorded 20 shots in a period twice this season. … The

Islanders were 0 for 4 on the power play, including one with 9:09

left.