Vasilevskiy, Johnson key Lightning’s 4-2 win over Islanders
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tyler Johnson admitted the Lightning didn’t have their best game. But his late goal and another strong outing by Andrei Vasilevskiy helped ensure another Tampa Bay victory.
Vasilveksiy made 35 saves, Johnson broke a tie with 1:26 left, and the Lighting beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Thursday night.
“It’s not always going to be pretty,” Johnson said. “Good teams find ways to win. It’s important that’s the end result. I guess we did just enough.”
Vasilevskiy has allowed two or fewer goals in nine of 12 games.
Johnson scored from just outside the crease off a pass from Nikita Kucherov. Steven Stamkos added an empty-netter.
“Kuch just found me backdoor,” Johnson said. “I was just in the right spot at the right time.”
Tampa Bay, with the NHL’s best record at 12-3-1, also got goals from Mathieu Joseph and J.T. Miller.
The Lightning are 8-0-0 against the Eastern Conference.
Josh Bailey scored twice and Robin Lehner stopped 23 shots for the Islanders. They had a seven-game (5-0-2) points streak end.
“I felt we should have got a point,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “When you’re into the last minute against a very good team, you’ve got make sure, let’s get the point for sure, maybe two.”
The Islanders pulled even at 2 on Bailey’s in-close goal at 8:43 of the third.
After Joseph scored at 5:58 of the second, Mikhail Sergachev skated in from the blue line and set up Miller’s goal with a pass through the slot that put Tampa Bay up 2-1 with 8:48 left in the period.
“They’re hard to contain,” Trotz said.
Bailey opened the scoring 3:40 into the first with a spin move while being challenged by Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman in the low slot.
Vasilevskiy made a pad save on Casey Cizikas’ low slot rebound, and soon after stopped Johnny Boychuk’s low right circle shot and froze the puck with his glove near the goal line 14 minutes in the second.
New York went 0 for 5 on the power play, including a two-man advantage for just under a minute to start the third.
“We could have been up one or two with the 5-on-3,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said.
Tampa Bay didn’t score on four power-play chances.
Barzal assisted on Bailey’s second goal and needs two points in his next game to reach 100 in his first 100 NHL games. The only players to achieve the feat when starting their career with the Islanders are Mike Bossy (79 games) and Bryan Trottier (93 games).
NOTES: Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said C Brayden Point was OK after getting shaken up in the third period. ... Lightning RW Ryan Callahan took part in a ceremony puck drop with Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch on Military Appreciation Night. Both are from Rochester, New York. ... Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman (shoulder) missed his seventh straight game but has practiced the past two days and is nearing a return. ... Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat (foot) also missed his seventh consecutive game and the team announced he will miss four more weeks. ... Islanders LW Matt Martin (upper body) sat out his third straight game. . New York C Jordan Eberle was minus-four.
Islanders: Play at Florida Saturday night.
Lightning: Complete a three-game homestand Saturday night against Ottawa.
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