All John Tavares had to do was glance across the ice to the other No. 91 to see what one more year of experience can yield.
Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008, finished with two goals and an assist for the Lightning in the Islanders’ 4-2 loss at St. Pete Times Forum last night.
Unlike the sobering six-game winless streak to begin the season, the Islanders haven’t even earned a point in their latest skid.
The Islanders have dropped six straight and seven of their last eight to fall even further behind in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
Tavares, who was held without a goal for his ninth straight game, now has only six points ( 2 goals, 4 assists) in his last 25 games.
However, his production perils only serve as a microcosm for the whole team’s recent scoring struggles.
The Islanders have not scored more than two goals since January 19, a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got to score some goals, plain and simple,” alternate captain Kyle Okposo said. “They’re not going in right now and that’s what happens sometimes during a drought.
Despite superior 5-on-5 play and a wealth of scoring chances, the Islanders simply could not find the back of the net.
Nothing was more indicate of that than the second period when the Islanders aggressive forechecking allowed them three line changes and seven uncontested shots in Tampa Bay’s zone.
“It has snowballed. We’ve lost six games,” coach Scott Gordon said after the game. “Very rarely do you have your whole team go cold, and that’s where we’re at right not.”
The Islanders offensive woes have carried over to the power play, where they are 0-for-14 in the previous four games.
After four unsuccessful power-play opportunities last night, the Islanders are now 1-for-16 with the man-advantage against Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, the Lightning scored on their first power play opportunity of the game, on Stamkos’s one-timer from the left circle at 14:15.
In his sophomore year, Stamkos leads the league in power play points (27) and goals (13).
The Islanders rallied back quickly to tie the game 1-1 however, as Matt Moulson earned his 21st goal of the season at 15:26 with a shot that deflected in off Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros’ skate.
The teams traded quick strikes again in the second period.
Jon Sim buried Doug Weight’s feed from behind the goal line that deflected off Antero Niittymaki’s stick at 9:12 and 25 seconds later Martin St. Louis snuck in a short-side goal in the narrowest of crevices provided by Dwayne Roloson.
Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier delivered the go-ahead goal on an odd-man 2-on-0 rush at 10:13 to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead.
“We worked hard, had a lot of good chances, but we just couldn’t put them in,” Tavares said.
Scoring his 31st of the season, Stamkos notched his second goal of the night with a blistering slapshot for a 4-2 Lightning lead at 11:49 in the third and Alex Tanguay scored the empty netter with 37.3 left in regulation.
“We’ve got to push it during these games before the break,” defenseman Andy Sutton said. “We’ve got to amass some points, because we’ve got some ground to make up.”