TAMPA, Fla. -- The Islanders have been among the best third-period teams in the league this season and they proved it again Saturday night, completing a comeback from two goals down to eke out a 3-2 win over the Lightning on John Tavares' power-play goal with 3:36 to play.
"We've got confidence no matter what the score is," said Josh Bailey, who started the rally from 2-0 down with a power-play goal at 3:51 of the second period. "It felt good to come back and win this in regulation. We don't change much in the third. We're able to stick with the game plan and we were able to find a way to win."
Bailey's goal, followed by Cal Clutterbuck's tying score at 16:51 of the second -- he intercepted Braydon Coburn's pass attempt and the puck went through Ben Bishop's legs with four Lightning players around him -- pulled the Islanders even heading to the third period despite being outshot 26-13.
Thomas Greiss was the main reason the Islanders were able to come back. Among his 29 saves were a penalty-shot stop on Steven Stamkos in the second in which Greiss aggressively poke-checked the puck off Stamkos' stick. Greiss came up with two more breakaway saves, one on Valtteri Filppula less than a minute after the penalty shot, and clearly was the reason the Isles were tied after two periods. He also stopped Victor Hedman twice in the final minute with the Tampa Bay net empty.
"The penalty shot, the breakaway right after, those were a big boost for our club," Jack Capuano said.
Special teams have been a problem for the Islanders of late, with a flailing power play that entered the game in a 2-for-36 funk and a penalty kill that had allowed seven goals in the previous seven games.
The penalty-killers were on point Saturday night, though, especially in the third period, when the Islanders gave the Lightning two power plays with the score tied. Tampa Bay had no shots on goal on either power play, with Thomas Hickey an active participant in his first action in more than a month.
Inside of the final five minutes of a 2-2 game, the Islanders earned a power play for the second straight night in the same situation. They had failed to score with the man advantage in the final 1:25 of regulation and the first 35 seconds of overtime in Friday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers. This time Clutterbuck drew a hooking penalty by Erik Condra with 4:29 to go, and the Islanders' top power-play unit charged the net and hit paydirt.
Tavares tried a backhand from Bishop's right that the goaltender stopped. Bishop also stopped Frans Nielsen's rebound try. But Tavares, hounded and hampered by bouncing pucks all game long, beat Hedman to a puck at the top of the crease and chopped it under Bishop for the go-ahead score.
It was only the second time all season the Islanders had two power-play goals, the other coming on Oct. 12 against the Jets. They are plus-11 in third periods this season, outscoring their opponents 31-20.
"We only had the one opportunity [Friday] and it can be hard to get in a rhythm," Tavares said. "A lot of things haven't been bouncing our way, but we've been working for everything we've gotten and I feel like we've gotten better as the games have gone on."