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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 16th (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (18-23-7) at Tampa Bay Lightning (28-15-4), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After coming up short in their bid to match the longest road winning streak in team history, the New York Islanders will try to bounce back when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
New York had won seven straight on the road, including the first three tests on a six-game swing, before losing a 4-2 decision Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.
It was the Isles' first loss away from home since a 6-3 setback in Phoenix on Dec. 12. New York's seven-game road win streak was the second longest in club history behind its eight-game tear from Feb. 27-March 29, 1981.
The Isles dug themselves an early hole on Tuesday, allowing Aleksander Barkov to score just 32 seconds into the game en route to a 3-0 deficit after one period. Colin McDonald and Thomas Vanek both lit the lamp for the Islanders in the loss and Kevin Poulin allowed all four goals on 26 shots in defeat.
It was just the second loss in nine games overall for the Islanders, who only got two of their 33 shots past Florida goaltender Tim Thomas.
"It's partially good goaltending, but also us not burying our chances," Vanek said. "It's those little plays we didn't execute."
Despite their recent hot play, the Islanders are still last in the Metropolitan Division with 43 points. New York, which will close its trek Saturday in Philadelphia, is 11-14-0 as the road club this season.
The Lightning recently went 2-1-0 on a three-game road trip and they closed the swing with a 2-1 regulation win over the New York Rangers. Ben Bishop returned to the crease for Tampa in Tuesday's win over the Rangers and picked up his 23rd victory of the season.
Making his first appearance since spraining his right wrist on Jan. 5, Bishop allowed just Brad Richards' first-period goal on 34 shots to outduel New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Bishop has been one of the best goaltenders in the league this season, going 23-5-3 with a 1.83 goals against average and .937 save percentage.
"Ben was probably our best player tonight," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "When you're going on the road and trying to win a hockey game, it all starts with goaltending and he gave us a chance to win tonight."
Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored nine seconds apart in the second period to help make Bishop's return a successful one.
Tampa has forged a tie with Boston atop the Atlantic Division. Both teams have 60 points, but the Bruins, who play tonight in Dallas, have a game in hand over the Lightning.
The Lightning are 14-5-2 as the host this season and are playing two straight and four of their next five games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Isles had won three straight in this series before the Lightning notched a 3-2 road shootout win on Dec. 17. New York has claimed nine of its past 13 encounters with the Bolts overall and has won three of the past five tests in Tampa.
01/16 10:57:51 ET