Hedman scores 1st NHL goal in Lightning win
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) A failed first-period power play hurt the New York Islanders.
Rookie defenseman Victor Hedman scored his first NHL goal and Mike Smith made 30 saves to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Islanders 4-0 on Saturday night.
The outcome could have been different if the Islanders didn’t waste a great opportunity 15 minutes into the game when Tampa Bay led 1-0. New York mustered only one shot during a 1 minute, 21 second 5-on-3 power play.
“That was huge,” Smith said. “I think there were two or three blocks in that penalty kill, and that’s what you have to have in order to win hockey games.”
The Islanders finished 0 for 6 on the power play and have converted two of their last 37 opportunities.
“The 5-on-3, we couldn’t have asked for a better chance,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “It swung the momentum.”
Hedman, taken second in this year’s draft after the Islanders chose center John Tavares with the No. 1 pick, scored from the low slot off a pass from Vincent Lecavalier to make it 4-0 with 9:29 left in the third.
“It was pretty awesome,” Hedman said. “It felt great to finally get one.”
Tavares had one shot on goal.
“We had our power plays and we didn’t get it done,” Tavares said. “When we did get our chances, we couldn’t bury them. It was a little frustrating. You’re getting all those power plays, and we’re not producing the way we should.”
Smith recorded his first shutout this season and ninth in the NHL. Ryan Malone, Steve Downie and Jeff Halpern also scored for the Lightning, who stopped a four-game losing streak.
Hedman and Tavares faced each other for the first time in the NHL. Hedman said there was no added excitement getting his first goal against Tavares.
“Not at all,” Hedman said. “It was a big game for us. We lost four straight games, so we got back on the right track.”
Malone put the Lightning ahead 1-0 with his 16th goal this season, coming on an in-close rebound at 1:35 of the first. Downie’s rebound power-play goal made it 2-0 with 51.4 seconds left in the first.
Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead when Halpern scored during a power play at 2:58 of the third.
The Islanders had potential goals disallowed due to a hand pass and goalie interference.
“It obviously wasn’t our night,” Gordon said. “To have two goals called back. To have their first goal go in, that it was clearly tied up. To have their fourth goal go in with their guy jumping up in the air to get out of the way and it hits his foot.”
NOTES: Islanders G Rick DiPietro (knee) had his first game action since Jan. 2, starting for Bridgeport of the AHL. DiPietro, taken off the injured list and loaned to Bridgeport on Thursday, stopped 10 of 13 shots over two periods against Springfield. … Lightning RW Martin St. Louis had two assists after going pointless in four games. He has 25 assists and 30 points in 28 games this season.
Updated December 5, 2009