Tampa Bay goaltender John Grahame is showing why he was selected to represent the United States later this month at the Turin Olympics.
Grahame—who has posted shutouts his last three wins—is expected in net when the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning meet the New York Islanders.
The Lightning have won the last five meetings between the teams, including the final three games of the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round.
Grahame, a backup to Nikolai Khabibulin during Tampa Bay’s championship run, has stopped all 69 shots he has faced in his last three wins including a 29-save performance Saturday in the Lightning’s 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals.
“I just think, ‘No mistakes! No mistakes! Give this team a chance to win,”’ Grahame said.
Since a four-game losing streak in mid-December, Grahame has gone 6-3-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average.
Brad Richards scored twice in the win over Washington. He has four goals and nine assists his last 14 games against the Islanders, including the playoffs.
Tampa Bay is expected to have Vincent Lecavalier back in the lineup. Lecavalier, whose 21 goals rank second on the team, sat out the win over Washington with an upper body injury.
The Islanders, meanwhile, look for their fifth win in six games.
Satan has 13 goals and 13 assists in 32 games against the Lightning in his career.
Rick DiPietro—Grahame’s Olympic teammate—made 40 saves, including 18 in the third period and overtime, and stopped both shootout attempts.
“Pittsburgh really came at us hard, had us scrambling there,” DiPietro said. “They crowded the net, too. There were a lot of shots I didn’t see.”
DiPietro is 2-3-0 with a 2.14 GAA in his career against the Lightning. At home, he is 1-1-0 with a 1.85 GAA and a shutout against them.
New York is in 12th place in the conference, but just six points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the eighth and final playoff spot.