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The recap: Isles 5, Lightning 1
-- A breakout night for the John Tavares-Matt Moulson-PA Parenteau line, thanks in part to Victor Hedman's glove and the Hedman-Eric Brewer D pair for Tampa that played a strangely passive game. Hedman tried to throw a rebound into the corner 36 seconds in; he threw it right into the net, giving Tavares his first of a four-point first period.
As Jack Capuano noted, Tavares "puts a lot of pressure on himself. Tonight he looked relaxed and did the little things."
Tavares, Parenteau (who was quick and strong on pucks for a second straight game) and Moulson made it look easy, even though it was a lot of good puck movement and body movement inside the offensive zone.
-- It won't get much mention (other than Capuano saying it), but the Isles' D as a whole had a solid night. The Lightning did get 35 shots, but they have two of the most explosive players in the game in Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos; perhaps the biggest play of the game was Al Montoya stopping Stamkos from 15 feet out in a flurry of Tampa shots just after Tavares' opening score.
Mark Eaton and Mike Mottau both played excellent games, moving the puck well between the D and up the ice. Neither had much time or space in the first two games; they had lots of both tonight. Whether that was because of the passive Tampa game or because they were moving the pick quicker, I couldn't say so soon after the game. But they were better by a good stretch, which is important for the team to have the third pair be reliable.
-- A good game for the Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo-Michael Grabner line too, with Grabner getting on the board in the second and Okposo playing a charged-up game.
-- These teams play again in a week, and there could be some payback coming, somehow. Parenteau told me he was "so happy" that the Islanders chased Dwayne Roloson, who did not leave on great terms when he was dealt to Tampa Jan. 1 -- several players have told me, off the record, that they felt Roloson was not a good teammate in the final weeks of his time here.
Tamap's got some issues right now -- the Lightning has allowed 16 goals in four games, 10 in the previous two. Vinny Lecavalier tried to swipe at Travis Hamonic and ended up falling on his behind, while also getting a roughing minor. If Tampa, which has Florida home and home before the Isles arrive, is still reeling by next week, it could be a chippy one down there.