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Islanders-Lightning Preview

AP - Sports

The only regulation loss the Tampa Bay Lightning have suffered in the last six weeks with Ben Bishop starting in goal was a game he left due to injury.

The Lightning will go for consecutive wins since getting him back when they return home Thursday night to face the New York Islanders.

Bishop, who sat out four games with a sprained wrist, is 9-0-2 in 12 starts since last losing in regulation on Dec. 3 at Columbus. He's got a 1.49 goals-against average in that time after making 34 saves to lead Tampa Bay (28-15-4) to a 2-1 road win against the New York Rangers in his return on Tuesday.

"We played solidly, and I felt no rust," Bishop said. "This was big for us coming into this building and playing well."

Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov scored second-period goals after the Lightning fell behind 1-0 in the first, and Bishop had 11 saves in the third to make the slim lead stand.

"He was probably our best player," coach Jon Cooper said. "When you're going on the road and trying to win a hockey game, it all starts with your goaltending. He gave us a chance to win."

Hedman, one of the league's top scoring defenseman with 10 goals, has scored in consecutive games. Martin St. Louis assisted Hedman and has six points on a five-game point streak.

The win tied Tampa Bay with Boston atop the Atlantic Division at 60 points, while the Islanders (18-23-7), despite a recent hot steak, remain last in the Metropolitan with 43.

A 4-2 loss Tuesday at Florida snapped a seven-game road winning streak for the Islanders, though they've still won seven of nine overall. They're 3-1-0 to start a six-game road stretch.

New York had come back in five straight road games, but a 4-0 second-period hole against the Panthers ended that run.

"We talked about it before tonight's game, that we wanted a better start," Colin McDonald said. "Obviously, we didn't do that and got ourselves in a deeper hole than in the last couple games. Going down four, it's just too tough to come back."

New York got goals from McDonald and Thomas Vanek, who has 18 points in his last 13 games.

Defenseman Calvin de Haan added an assist and has seven points on a five-game point streak after going without a point in his first 17 games of the season.

In goal, Kevin Poulin's five-game winning streak came to an end, and his regular playing time could soon also be compromised. No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov, on injured reserve since Jan. 6, has resumed practicing, though his status remains day-to-day.

The Islanders could be without defenseman Travis Hamonic for a second straight game after he suffered an upper-body injury Sunday at Dallas.

They also sent Ryan Strome back to AHL Bridgeport on Wednesday after the 20-year-old forward had four points in 15 games with the parent club. New York went 9-4-2 with him in the lineup over the last month.

"He's an offensively gifted player, and to hear him say he wanted to create more; he understands how he has to create more," coach Jack Capuano told the team's official website.

The Lightning won 3-2 in a shootout in New York on Dec. 17 after Valtteri Filppula scored twice in the last three minutes of regulation to force overtime. He has three goals in his last three against the Islanders.

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