The New York Islanders recorded their fourth straight shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-0, as Tommy Salo stopped 22 shots for his 10th career whitewash.
The Islanders have played more than four hours of hockey without allowing a goal to Tampa Bay since Mikael Renberg scored at 2:59 of the third period in New York's 7-1 victory on January 14th. Since then, the Islanders have outscored the Lightning, 13-0, over the last 255 minutes, one second.
"They play a boring game, a real simple game, especially on the road. Nothing fancy with them, and we get caught up in their game," said Tampa Bay left wing Paul Ysebaert. "It's similar to (New) Jersey. They're not real fancy, but once they get up a goal or two goals, then they shut the door with the best of them."
Salo, who served as Wade Flaherty's backup each of the previous four meetings with Tampa Bay, including the three shutouts, had to stop only 10 shots over the first two periods before making 12 saves in the third.
Enforcer Gino Odjick gave Salo all the support he needed, snapping a personal 29-game scoring drought at 8:43 of the opening period. Claude Lapointe scored on a shorthanded breakaway with 7:30 left.
"The big thing tonight was Tommy got some goals behind him," said assistant coach Wayne Fleming. "If we keep working hard, good things will happen."
Daren Puppa recorded 21 saves for Tampa Bay, which lost its home opener and frst game since the firing of Phil Esposito, the only general manager in franchise history. Coach Jacques Demers took on the GM's role after Tuesday's management shakeup.
"I can't believe what I saw," said Demers, whose team dropped to 0-2-1. "Does anybody today in sports think about the fans? Do we ever for one single minute think about the fans? It's our home opener. We've played three games and we've played one good period. I cannot believe what I saw tonight."
Odjick opened the scoring with his 47th goal in 458 NHL games. Mariusz Czerkawski slid a pass from the right boards into the slot, where Robert Reichel quickly slapped a pass to Odjick at the right of the crease. Odjick redirected the puck past Puppa's stick side.
Lapointe provided insurance with his 10th career shorthanded goal, blocking a shot at his own blue line, skating in alone and beating Puppa.
"The second goal was a big goal," said Salo, who made his best saves just over four minutes earlier, denying Mikael Andersson on a breakaway and stopping Rob Zamuner's rebound. He preserved the shutout with 3:30 to play, knocking aside Pavel Kubina's shot from in front of the net.
"I hope I don't need a shutout each time, but I wanted to play good tonight," said Salo, who also blanked Tampa Bay on March 13th, 1997. "It was a big game for us. We had played well in Boston. But we got big goals when we needed tonight."
The Islanders rebounded from consecutive defeats to pick up their sixth straight victory over Tampa Bay. They have outscored the Lightning, 24-2, in that span.
"Last year doesn't matter," Salo said. "This Tampa Bay team is better than last year's. You never expect a shutout every game. They're a good hockey club."
Tonight also marked the return of Lightning center John Cullen to Tampa Bay. He missed all of last season while battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
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