Nielsen leads Isles past Lightning 2-1 in SO
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By BOB BELLONE
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The New York Islanders have certainly felt at home on the road lately.
Frans Nielsen scored the only shootout goal and assisted on a second-period score by Thomas Vanek in the Islanders' 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York's eighth win in nine games away from home.
The Islanders bounced back from a 4-2 loss at Florida on Tuesday and played like a team with their sights set on trying to reach the postseason despite their position at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.
"You can't lose two games in a row if you want to make the playoffs," New York defenseman Thomas Hickey said. "If you have that one loss, you want to start a win streak again. So tonight was important to do that."
In contrast, Tampa Bay has endured four one-goal losses in a row at home.
"If we're going to play like that every single night at home, we're going to win some games," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Their goaltender played well. Ours played well. We gave up one goal. You should get points out of that, if not win the game."
During the shootout, Nielsen snapped a wrist shot between the pads of Ben Bishop moments after Valtteri Filppula rang a shot off the post to the right of Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin at the opposite end.
Poulin stopped nine of the 10 shots he has faced in winning all three of his shootout appearances this season.
"Those are the games that I'm really excited to play," Poulin said. "We battled since they scored the go-ahead goal, but we were able to come back and play hard, and do those little things that make us successful. . I love the shootout."
Martin St. Louis beat Poulin from the right circle to open the scoring on a power play 5:45 into the game, capitalizing on a penalty-killing unit ranked last in the league.
Vanek pulled New York even on a power play at 18:22 of the second, taking a pass in the low slot from Nielsen and lifting it over a fallen Bishop.
Defenseman Victor Hedman, playing in his 300th NHL game, nearly restored Tampa Bay's advantage with a backhander that hit the left post midway through the third period.
Both goalies finished with 29 saves.
NOTES: St. Louis has scored points in six consecutive games (four goals and three assists). His next point will pull him even with Hall of Famer Larry Robinson at No. 87 on the NHL career list with 958. ... Tampa Bay C Steven Stamkos participated in a full morning skate for the first time since breaking his right shinbone Nov. 11 at Boston. ... Lightning D Sami Salo returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury. ... Islanders D Radek Martinek played after missing 22 games with back spasms. ... New York D Travis Hamonic was sent back home for an evaluation on an upper-body injury.
Updated January 17, 2014