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Islanders

Islanders Suddenly On A Roll, Rout Lightning

Tavares Has Goal And Assist In 5-1 Victory Over Struggling Tampa Bay
John Tavares

John Tavares, second from right, is congratulated by teammates after scoring the Islanders’ first goal against visiting Tampa Bay on Dec. 6, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — In one room, there was confusion, frustration and anger. In the other, smiles and good feeling.

For a change, the positive vibes come from the New York Islanders’ side of the hallway.

Matt Martin scored his second game-winning goal in his three-year NHL career, and the Islanders shook off a slow start and routed the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Tuesday night.

The Islanders are 4-1-2 in their past seven games.

“It’s been a great week, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said John Tavares, who had a goal and an assist. “We have to raise our game.”

Milan Jurcina, David Ullstrom and Matt Moulson — the NHL’s first star of last week — also scored for New York. Ullstrom’s goal was his first in the NHL. Al Montoya made 23 saves.

“We just have to keep trying to find ways to win,” said Islanders captain Mark Streit, who had two assists.

Fourteen of New York’s 18 skaters had at least one shot on goal, led by Moulson’s eight. Moulson also had two points, and nine Islanders reached the score sheet.

“The team is invested and it shows,” coach Jack Capuano said.

Martin St. Louis gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, but the Islanders led 3-1 before the first period ended. Mathieu Garon stopped 29 shots.

Tampa Bay, which has lost five in a row, leads New York by only one point for 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

“Pretty down,” St. Louis said of the Lightning’s mood. “It’s tough when you’re in a down spiral like this. We’re a fragile team.”

The Islanders have outscored opponents 19-13 the past six games.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on its first shot when St. Louis tipped Brett Clark’s point drive past Montoya 6:55 in for his ninth goal this season.

New York then took control.

Tavares tied it with a wrist shot from the right circle at 14:01, splitting two defenders before ripping in his ninth goal.

“We’re fine up a goal, we’re going good, we scored (then) they scored and (we) just collapsed,” St. Louis said. “Just a beating after that.”

Martin slammed Tim Wallace’s feed from behind the net under Garon to give New York a 2-1 lead with 1:34 left in the first. That turned out to be the game-winning goal. Martin’s other winner was scored against the Lightning last season. Wallace earned his first NHL assist, and finished plus-2 in 9:37 of ice time.

Jurcina concluded the outburst by completing a passing sequence that included Frans Nielsen and Streit, who tapped a shot past Garon with 5.5 seconds left in the period.

“Everyone’s a little more confident,” Martin said. “We’re making no-look passes and they’re working.”

Garon kept the Lightning in the game as he helped kill three straight Islanders power plays in the second period, but Tampa Bay couldn’t muster any more offense.

“We score the first goal, but we were a second behind on every play, even when we scored,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. “I knew we were in trouble. Tonight, we didn’t get chances.”

Ullstrom pushed the lead to 4-1 when he drove to the net and shoved Josh Bailey’s pass under Garon 3:19 into the third.

“It was huge,” Ullstrom said of his first goal. “It was a great pass by Josh.”

Moulson’s power play goal at 17:25 was his 14th of the season. Moulson has scored in five straight games, including a four-goal performance Saturday night in New York’s 5-4 win at Dallas.

New York was 2-for-5 on the power play and killed all three Tampa Bay advantages.

“We would have needed a bit of luck on our power play to score. Didn’t happen,” Boucher said. “Our power play is in a drought and that’s the big difference in our team this year, the power play is not doing well at all.”

NOTES: The Islanders have scored at least four goals in three straight games. It is their longest such streak since a four-game stretch from March 13-19, 2010. … Tampa Bay promoted D Evan Oberg from AHL Norfolk on Monday, but he wasn’t in the lineup. … The announced attendance was 9,486.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)