National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, March 27th (All times Eastern)

New York Islanders (28-35-9) at Tampa Bay Lightning (39-24-9), 7:30 p.m.

( - The Tampa Bay Lightning have rallied to pick up a point in each of their last two games, but a return to the win column would be a welcome sight when the Bolts host the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

After matching a season-high with five straight wins, the Lightning have dropped two in a row beyond regulation. Tampa lost 4-3 in overtime Saturday in Pittsburgh and returned home to drop Monday's 4-3 shootout loss to Ottawa.

Tampa trailed 3-2 with less than four minutes left against Pittsburgh before Ondrej Palat tied the game with 1:22 remaining in regulation. The Penguins, however, would win on an OT tally from James Neal.

On Monday, the Lightning found themselves down 3-1 to the Senators midway through the second period before finding a way to earn a point. Victor Hedman scored on the power play with 6:34 left in the second period to make it a one- goal game and Steven Stamkos tallied at 5:44 of the third to even the contest.

Ottawa eventually won when Jason Spezza scored the lone marker of the shootout phase.

Despite earning a point for the ninth straight game (5-0-4) on Monday, the Lightning head into Thursday two points behind Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens, who have won six of their last seven games, have played two more games than Tampa and are in action tonight in Detroit.

With 87 points, the Bolts are seven ahead of Toronto for third place in the Atlantic. The top three teams from each division earn automatic bids to the playoffs.

Spezza delivered the winning score for the Sens in Monday's shootout several times before releasing a wrister that fooled Lightning netminder Ben Bishop and found twine in the top right corner.

Nikita Kucherov also scored in the loss, while Bishop stopped 29-of-32 shots in defeat.

The Lightning had a three-game home winning streak snapped on Monday. They are 20-8-6 at Tampa Bay Times Forum this season.

The Islanders are well out of a playoff spot in the East, but they have won two straight and three of their last four games. New York notched Tuesday's 5-4 regulation win at Carolina to post consecutive wins for the first time in more than two months.

Colin McDonald and Matt Martin each had two goals to lift the Islanders past the Hurricanes. New York struck quickly with four goals in the first 10:54 of the game -- chasing Hurricanes starting goaltender Cam Ward in the process -- but were then outscored 4-1 the rest of the way.

In the end, the Isles escaped to win their second straight game for the first time since beating the Flyers and Rangers on Jan. 20 and 21.

"We've been struggling holding onto leads all year so I think ... we just looked at it as another challenge," said McDonald about the Carolina comeback that fell short.

Cal Clutterbuck also scored, McDonald added an assist and Anders Nilsson had 24 saves for the Islanders, who were coming off Sunday's 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets.

New York has won its last two away games and is 17-17-1 as the road club this season.

The Isles have won four of the last five meetings against Tampa Bay and both of this season's encounters ended after regulation. The Bolts recorded a 3-2 shootout win on Long Island on Dec. 17, but New York answered with a 2-1 shootout victory of its own on Jan. 16 in Tampa. The Islanders have won two straight and four of their last six road games in this series.

03/27 11:05:45 ET

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