65° Good Afternoon
65° Good Afternoon

Recap: Isles lose to Lightning, 4-1

Some thoughts:

-- Jack Capuano said on MSG after the game that he's considering shuffling some lines to start tomorrow's game against the Panthers, and he did do some makeshift arranging after an out-of-sync first period in Tampa last night.

Kyle Okposo, who could have changed the complexion of the game had he buried a golden chance two minutes in, got shuffled off to play wing with the 3rd/4th line forwards, while Brian Rolston got some shifts with Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner; when the Isles went shotless for the first 12:42 of the second, Capuano just mixed and matched everyone save the John Tavares line.

The Okposo-Nielsen-Grabner line is not near where it was last season, and all three know it. "It seems like one guy is working hard and the two other guys are watching," Nielsen, always candid in his assessments, said. "We've got to work together."

The problem is that, among the six other forwards in the lineup last night, none has the speed to keep up with Nielsen and Grabner.

Paging Blake Comeau? This is probably a good chance to get him back in the lineup and give him a shot with some more offensive-minded players. Nino Niederreiter just resumed skating on Wednesday, so he's still several days away from returning. For now, Comeau would seem to slot in well with Nielsen and Grabner to see what they can do.

Okposo has been grinding his gears an awful lot these first five games. He would add some punch to a line with Josh Bailey and Rolston, while the Matt Martin-Marty Reasoner-Jay Pandolfo line could reunite. Martin has been great for what the Isles need so far -- physical play, an intimidating edge and a few scoring chances -- so it wouldn't be farfetched to try a Martin-Bailey-Okposo trio either.

-- Al Montoya was good, not great, against the high-flying Lightning, who look a lot like the Isles in that once Tampa gains some confidence -- the Lightning got it after Okposo flubbed his chance and the Isles didn't get in on the forecheck -- it starts really rolling.

-- Tampa showed a sign of what's likely to come against the Tavares line, with Guy Boucher sending Nate Thompson's checking line out against Tavares' line for much of the first 40 minutes. Tavares had three shots in that span, but Thompson, Tom Pyatt and Adam Hall controlled the puck for long stretches, keeping Tavares and his guys quiet.

-- A couple of bad turnovers by the Isles' D led to goals, but they were hemmed in much of the game, as they were in the opener against the Panthers. Once the Isles' forecheck breaks down, their D has a hard time generating the transition game with opposing forwards draped all over them. Pressure led to Andrew MacDonald's hurried pass that clicked off Marty St. Louis' skate and right to Vinny Lecavalier, who made it 2-0; pressure forced Mark Eaton to misplay the puck and Steven Stamkos buried it to make it 3-0.


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