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Evgeni Nabokov starts for Lightning in goal vs. old team

Evgeni Nabokov of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes

Evgeni Nabokov of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a first-period save against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Lightning coach Jon Cooper has his own Long Island history, having played lacrosse at Hofstra in the 1980s. He was more concerned with Evgeni Nabokov's history around these parts Tuesday night, saying it was an easy decision to give Nabokov the start in Nassau Coliseum against his old team.

"I think he had a twinkle in his eye when he saw this one on the schedule," Cooper said. "The great thing about Nabby is that he came to me before the season and said, 'You don't have to play me against my old teams.' I told him that was good, because we'd never use him if it was just those games [three against the Islanders, two against the Sharks].

"But it was pretty much something we knew all along that he'd get the call here tonight."

Nabokov allowed five goals in the Islanders' 5-2 win. He had 31 saves.

Cooper and the Lightning will be back to the Coliseum on Dec. 20. He said he spent many nights there after the dynasty era, having gone to high school in Saskatchewan with former Isle Brad Lauer.

"We had a [lacrosse] game at Towson one night in 1987, and we went down, played, bused back and the Isles were still playing their playoff game," Cooper said, referring to the "Easter Epic" Game 7 against the Caps that Pat LaFontaine ended in the fourth overtime. "I was definitely an Islanders fan for a long time."

Lineup changes

Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday night's game in Tampa, with Cory Conacher a healthy scratch. Clutterbuck's shorthanded goal early in the second period tied the score at 1.

Michael Grabner (hernia surgery) skated Tuesday morning as he inches closer to making his season debut.

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