The Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t even find a way to beat the lowly New York Islanders during their current four-game losing streak. A potential matchup with a rusty Joey MacDonald could help them finally earn a win in this season’s series.
The Lightning, looking to avoid their second loss in a week against the NHL-worst Islanders, open a season-high six-game homestand Saturday night.
Tampa Bay (17-24-11) has dropped four in a row after winning six of its previous eight, losing 3-1 to New York (16-30-5) on Tuesday night in the third game of its skid.
For the Islanders, it was their season-high fourth straight win, and Yann Danis was in goal for each of those contests. Danis stopped 29 shots against the Lightning, allowed seven goals during New York’s run and has a 2.03 goals-against average in his last eight games—seven starts.
Danis had been starting for MacDonald, who missed six games with a groin injury. MacDonald has started most of the season for No. 1 goalie Rick DiPietro - out the rest of the way with a knee injury - and made his return Thursday night, making 26 saves as the Islanders had their winning streak end with a 3-2 loss to Florida.
MacDonald took a while to feel comfortable, and he’ll likely need a few games before he’s back in a groove.
“By the third I felt good,” MacDonald said. “My timing was coming better and I started picking up the puck a little quicker.”
If New York decides to start MacDonald again, it could be a good opportunity for Tampa Bay to end its slump and win for the first time in three games against the Islanders this season.
The Lightning had scored two goals or fewer in the first three games of their losing streak before blowing a 3-0 lead in the third period and falling 4-3 in overtime against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
Rookie Mike McKenna made his first career start, finishing with 31 saves.
“I let in too many goals,” McKenna said. “It’s not good enough.”
McKenna made his NHL debut Tuesday against the Islanders and stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief of Karri Ramo.
Tampa Bay has gone with McKenna and Ramo with Mike Smith day-to-day with an upper body injury. His status for this contest is uncertain.
Whoever is in goal for the Lightning may not have to contend with Islanders All-Star Mark Streit (upper body injury), whose 38 points (nine goals, 29 assists) rank among the league’s leaders for defensemen. Streit scored in Tuesday’s matchup with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning may also be short-handed on the blue line after Andrej Meszaros left in the second period against the Penguins due to a left arm injury. He has played in 298 straight games, but the Lightning haven’t put a timetable on his return.
Tampa Bay has lost five of its last six meetings with New York, allowing three goals or more five times in that span.