TAMPA, Fla. - The Islanders upped their rookie brigade by one more Thursday night, putting out a lineup with 10 first-year players out of 20 dressed.
Even without Kyle Okposo, the Islanders still put forth another full effort before dropping a 3-2 decision to the Lightning after a 13-round shootout.
"All I'm looking for right now is work ethic," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's not about the result, it's about how you play, how you work."
The kids were working Thursday night.
The Lightning's Ryan Callahan scored on a deflection 29 seconds into the second period, but Ryan Strome answered right back at 1:33 and the Isles took a 2-1 lead on Matt Donovan's goal at 9:17. Callahan scored in the third period to force overtime.
John Persson, summoned from Bridgeport in the early afternoon when Okposo (lower body) could not go, arrived at the arena at 7:20 p.m. for a 7:30 start. Not much time to learn anything except to just play, which he did, getting 12:49 and matching up against Steven Stamkos' line often.
"On the plane I was just telling myself, 'It's a hockey game, right?' It wasn't too difficult," Persson said.
Some of the recent games have been difficult for the Isles' three rookie defensemen. Donovan, Calvin de Haan and Kevin Czuczman each has had a three-penalty game in the past two months, with Donovan's and Czuczman's coming in the previous two games before Thursday night.
Czuczman was in only his third NHL game on Tuesday in Raleigh when he went to the penalty box three times.
"[Referee Kelly Sutherland] was in my ear all night," Czuczman said. "I've never taken that many penalties in a game before. I guess there's some adjustments I have to make. I'm learning the hard way."
That's the only way the current young Islanders are learning. A couple of second-year players, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey, made game-saving plays on a Lightning power play late in overtime. Cizikas scored to extend the shootout.
Just about everyone got a turn in the shootout, Persson included. Johan Sundstrom was stopped by Ben Bishop in the 13th round to give up the extra point to the playoff-bound Lightning.
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