Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders game preview
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET
NEW YORK — The last time the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning saw one another, they were battling for the right to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
On Tuesday, the teams will be looking to regain the form that sent them deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs six months ago.
The Islanders will continue a five-game homestand by hosting the Lightning at Barclays Center. It will be a rematch of an Eastern Conference semifinal from last spring, when Tampa Bay outlasted New York in five games.
The Islanders (4-5-0) snapped a two-game losing streak on Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning (5-4-0) lost their third straight contest on Sunday with a 6-1 setback to the New York Rangers.
The losing streak – during which the Lightning have been outscored 12-3 – has dropped them into a tie for third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay resides seven points behind the red-hot Montreal Canadiens, who remain unbeaten in regulation.
The Lightning allowed just 17 goals in their first six games.
"I think every team goes through a stretch of games where you’re off your game," Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said Sunday night. "That’s obviously where we are right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s now or midseason (or) later in the season. It’s about stopping the bleeding, fix the wrongs and do right. And I’m sure we have the quality to do that."
The Islanders played perhaps their most complete game of the year Sunday night, when they scored twice in the first eight minutes of the first period and three times in the third. Entering Sunday, New York had scored just four first-period goals all season and had allowed the tie-breaking tally late in the third period in each of its two previous losses.
The win came too late to salvage a winning October for the Islanders but provided valuable points for a team that rode strong starts to playoff berths in each of the last two seasons.
"Points are just as crucial now as they are in April," said defenseman Travis Hamonic, whose goal 61 seconds into the game Sunday gave New York a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. "You need to be aware of that, and certainly we are. You want to try and collect as many early on, because it becomes so close at the end of the season. Handfuls of points can dictate a division title or missing the playoffs."
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is likely to draw the start against Thomas Greiss, who may be emerging as New York’s No. 1 netminder as general manager Garth Snow tries to trade the disgruntled Jaroslav Halak
Bishop is 5-4-1 in 10 regular-season appearances against the Islanders. He took the defeat the last time he opposed New York in a regular-season game on April 4, as he was pulled in the third period after stopping 18 of 23 shots in the Lightning’s 5-2 loss at Barclays Center.
Greiss is 3-1-0 in four regular-season games against the Lightning. He earned the win for the Islanders on April 4, when he stopped 32 of 34 shots.
If Greiss starts Tuesday, it will be his second start in as many games since Halak’s agent tweeted his displeasure with his client getting in only one practice prior to last Thursday, when Halak took the loss as New York fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 4-2.
Newsday reported Monday that Snow has let other general managers know Halak is available in a trade.