UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Looking down and nearly out, the Tampa Bay Lightning found a way to fight back on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay stormed back with two goals in the final three minutes from Valtteri Filppula to force overtime in a 3-2 shootout victory against the New York Islanders in front of an announced crowd of 13,618 at Nassau Coliseum.
“The boys stuck with it ... but let's be honest, you are down two (goals) with four (minutes) to go, we probably stole a couple of points tonight,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Ben Bishop stopped 32 shots while allowing two or fewer goals for the 21st time in 26 starts this season. He saw his career-best shutout streak of 129 minutes, 57 seconds come to an end early in the second period.
Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen scored for New York, while Evgeni Nabokov stopped 34 shots.
Filppula ensured the game would get to overtime when he snapped home a wrist shot with 2:53 left in the third then hovered around the top of the crease during a goal-mouth scramble to backhand the puck past Nabokov with 3.8 seconds left in regulation.
“There were a lot of guys in that pile, and I was just standing there hoping the puck would come out,'' Filppula said. “Sometimes it stays there and sometimes it comes out.''
Filppula also scored in the shootout, while Nikita Kucherov had the shootout-deciding goal, pulling off another highlight-reel attempt. Bishop stopped tow of three shooters to secure the victory as Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak at Nassau Coliseum and ended the road trip with a 2-1 record to pull to 8-8-2 on the road.
“I don't think we played as well as we wanted to, but I think at the same time we didn't get down and we were trying, sometimes were trying a little too hard,'' Filppula said. “But we were able to get a couple of goals at the end there, so it was nice to be able to come back and get the two points.''
The Islanders, who have one victory in the past 15 games, gave Tampa Bay's defense fits at times, getting in behind the Lightning defense for odd-man chances, including two breakaway attempts from Josh Bailey in the first period. Then, after Okposo fired a one-timer from the center point off a John Tavares feed 11 seconds into the second period for a power-play goal, New York followed with a 2-on-0 break, but Bishop stopped Nielsen. Bishop came up with another big save when a deflected shot landed near the top of the crease, where Tavares was able to whack at it, but Bishop was again able to slide over and managed to knock the shot down at 3:44.
“I was just trying to make a save here and there to keep the team in the game, and it just happened to be a couple there early in the second,'' Bishop said.
Tyler Johnson nearly pulled Tampa Bay even, but a pass from Ondrej Palat jumped over Johnson's stick as he was alone in front, and his rebound chance seconds later did not have enough elevation to get over Nabokov at 9:54.
Less than a minute after the missed chance, the Islanders took a two-goal lead, getting another odd-man rush as Grabner fed Nielsen on the left wing side for a quick shot over Bishop at 10:21 that appeared to be the knockout blow, as the Lightning have had difficulties scoring goals of late.
“Scoring has been tough for us, but I felt like that even though we were down, we didn't get down, we were trying to still play,'' Filppula said. “I felt that we over-trying things at time, but you also need a little bit of luck when you are coming back like this, and I'm glad luck was on our side tonight.''