Lightning Send Isles Packin'

The New York Islanders controlled the play, but Tampa Bay's Bill Ranford won the game.

Ranford stopped 35 shots as the Lightning snapped a nine-game home losing streak Tuesday night, beating the Islanders 3-0.

"You don't really need me to explain what happened here ... the goaltender stole the game," Islanders coach Mike Milbury said. "I think we outplayed them significantly and the inability to score was the answer to tonight's question: 'What happened?'"

The Islanders outshot Tampa Bay 35-17, but were stymied by Ranford on breakaways by Zigmund Palffy and Robert Reichel.

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  • The shutout was Ranford's 15th and first since Dec. 19, 1996. The 14-year veteran also won for the first time since Oct. 23, stopping a 10-game winless streak (0-8-2).

    "I just try to stop the puck what ever way I can," said Ranford, who was making his fifth straight start after missing two weeks with a groin injury. "Anytime you get a chance to play, you're only going to get better. I still think I can do better."

    Vincent Lecavalier, this year's first overall draft pick, broke a scoreless tie with his sixth goal at 6:43 of the second period. The rookie spilt the defense near the blue line and then put a shot between goalie Marcel Cousineau's pads while being pulled down from behind by New York defenseman Zdeno Chara.

    "I actually got pretty lucky on that one," Lecavalier said. "When I fell down, I tried to shoot five-hole and it just dribbled in. I didn't even know it was in ... I jus saw the people behind (the net) just going nuts."

    The Lightning, who had gone six-games overall (0-5-1) without a win, also got power-play goals from Sandy McCarthy and Alex Selivanov.

    The islanders, who are 0-16-1 when their opponent scores first, dropped back-to-back games in Florida. New York lost 5-1 Monday night to the Florida Panthers.

    McCarthy gave the Lightning their first two-goal lead since Nov. 8 -- a span of 21 games and the last home win -- at 14:29 of the second-period during a five-minute power play.

    The extended man-advantage came after Islanders' center Claude LaPointe received a five-minute charging penalty and game misconduct for a hit on Mike McBain.

    "I thought it was a clean check," LaPointe said. "I was going for the puck. He was going for the puck. When I saw blood, I thought, 'I'm gone for four minutes.'"

    Selivanov added his goal with 2:18 left.

    Cousineau, making his first start since March 20, 1997, allowed two goals on the first eight shots he faced.

    In what has become a familiar script, the Lightning required a stellar first-period from Ranford. The goalie turned aside four shots by Trevor Linden and three more from Palffy during the opening 20 minutes.

    With the victory, Lightning coach Jacques Demers (399) moved within one win of becoming the 11th coach in NHL history to record 400 victories.

    Tampa Bay defenseman David Wilkie sustained a groin strain in the first period and will be sidelined two-to-three weeks. The Lightning did have right wing Stephane Richer, who had an assist, return after missing four games with an ankle injury.

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