UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Matt Martin scored the go-ahead goal with less than seven minutes left in the third period and Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves to lift the playoff-hopeful New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
The Islanders remained in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the New York Rangers, who hold the tiebreaker for seventh. Both teams lead the New Jersey Devils, who are below the postseason cutoff, by three points.
The Islanders are seeking their first postseason appearance since 2007.
Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey also scored, and Andrew MacDonald added an empty-net goal at 19:46 to make it 4-2 for New York, which won for the sixth time in eight games. The Islanders have five straight home wins against Tampa Bay and are 10-2 in their last 12 at Nassau Coliseum versus the Lightning.
Richard Panik and Matt Carle had goals for the Lightning.
Martin netted the go-ahead goal when his soft wrist shot from between the circles fooled goalie Ben Bishop, who appeared to be screened. Martin has three goals this season.
The Islanders have won three straight at home overall for the first time since December 2011-January 2012.
Grabner, who took the place of ill left wing Matt Moulson on the top line with John Tavares and Brad Boyes, opened the scoring at 14:45 of the first period with his 12th goal.
Grabner intercepted a clearing attempt by defenseman Sami Salo and fired the puck past Bishop, who was making his second start for Tampa Bay after he was acquired from Ottawa on Wednesday. Tavares, who leads the Islanders with 23 goals and 40 points, assisted on the goal.
Panik made it 1-1 at 4:44 of the second with a snap shot from the left circle for his second goal of the season.
Bailey put the Islanders back on top at 8:22 of the second when he jammed his seventh goal of the season past Bishop off a scramble in front.
Carle, who also had an assist, tied it again at 4:00 of the third period when he scored off a rebound of Steven Stamkos’ shot.
The Islanders have been tied or ahead in the third period in 33 of 39 games. They are 18-2-2 when scoring at least three goals and 1-14-2 fewer than three.
The Lightning were missing defenseman Victor Hedman. who sustained a lower body injury against Carolina on Wednesday. Defenseman Matt Taormina was recalled from AHL Syracuse to take Hedman’s place.
The Islanders will play three of their next four at home before ending the regular season with five straight road games. The Islanders started 2-8-1 at home but are 6-3-1 there since March 1. The Islanders are 11-5-2 on the road.
The Islanders swept the three-game season series against the Lightning.
NOTES: Moulson’s consecutive games streak ended at 284. He hadn’t missed a game in his Islanders career. The only Islanders with longer streaks are Billy Harris (576) and Bob Nystrom (301). . Islanders LW Jesse Joensuu made his season debut. . The Lightning were without C Dana Tyrell. . Nabokov has started all but six of the Islanders’ 39 games.
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