UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Since opening the season with three losses in four games, the New York Islanders have been unbeatable thanks to sheer teamwork. Their latest win was a textbook example.
Anders Lee had a goal and two assists in New York’s three-goal third period, and the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 Friday night for their eighth straight win.
Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock scored in the second period, Josh Bailey and Derick Brassard had goals in the third, and Thomas Greiss stopped 33 shots for New York’s longest winning streak since a nine-game run in the 1989-90 season.
“We understand what we are and what works for us. We rely on each other,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz. “We were playing quick against a real good team. I thought we managed everything well. ”
Yanni Gourde and Ryan McDonagh scored for Tampa Bay, which lost two of three to New York area teams this week. The Lightning lost 4-1 at the New York Rangers on Tuesday before beating New Jersey 7-6 in overtime on Wednesday. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 21 saves.
After a scoreless first period, Barzal got the Islanders on the scoreboard at 4:58 of the second when his shot managed to skitter past Vasilevskiy for his sixth of the season.
The Lightning tied it at 7:49 as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk slid a slick pass to Gourde, who backhanded the puck past Greiss for his second. Shattenkirk, who was bought out by the Rangers two years into a four-year contract, has 10 points in 13 games for the Lightning.
Pulock put the Islanders ahead for good when his shot from the point eluded Vasilevskiy with 8:27 left in the middle period for his second.
Bailey made it 3-1 with his fifth with 7:19 left in the third, and Lee got his fifth with 5:33 remaining.
“We got some good bounces tonight. We try to make something happen every shift,” Lee said. “We’re playing a pretty simple game and we’re able to keep the momentum on our side as much as possible.”
McDonagh got the Lightning back within two with 1:57 to go before Brassard’s empty-netter capped the scoring with 36 seconds left and gave him a goal for the fourth straight game, matching a career-best streak for the 32-year-old forward.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper ventured that he expects hard work to eventually generate better outcomes for his club, which won 62 games last season but lost four straight in the first round of the playoffs.
“The guys are working, they are trying,” Cooper said. “That’s when frustration sets in, when you are working so hard and ‘breaks aren’t going your way.’ Eventually with the skill set we have up front, we will score some goals.”
The teams played a spirited first period and each had five shots on goal. The Lightning held a 16-13 shots advantage in the second as both goalies were busy.
Trotz, who presided over last season’s 103-point finish for the Islanders while employing a defense-first mindset, approved of his goaltender’s stellar play and the overall team effort.
“Greisser was really good and we frustrated them,” Trotz added. “We forced them to play our game. We are comfortable there.”
NOTES: New York improved to 9-0-0 when scoring at least three goals, and is 0-3-0 when it doesn’t. ... The Islanders scratched D Noah Dobson and F Otto Koivula, who was called up this week and has yet to make his NHL debut. ... Greiss won his fourth straight start. ... The Lightning scratched D Braydon Coburn and F Carter Verhaeghe and were again without D Victor Hedman and F Patrick Maroon. Both were injured in the loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night. ... The teams meet Dec. 9 and Feb. 8 in Tampa Bay. ... The Lightning had won seven of their previous nine meetings against the Islanders since start of 2016-17 season. The previous time the teams met at Nassau Coliseum last Feb. 1, Greiss and Vasilevskiy battled to a scoreless tie before the Lightning won in a shootout. ... The Islanders, 6-2-0 at the Coliseum, will play their first three home games of the season next week at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as part of their split home schedule.
Islanders: At Buffalo on Saturday night.
Lightning: Face Buffalo at Stockholm, Sweden, on Nov. 8 as part of NHL’s Global Series.