With both teams playing for next season, the Lightning and Islanders will try to end their respective losing streaks Saturday night in Long Island.
Tampa Bay will attempt to avoid losing six straight for the first time since a season high seven-game skid from Nov. 28-Dec. 10, and New York is searching for its first win in four games.
The Lightning also have four consecutive road defeats, while the Islanders have dropped three in a row at home. With 66 points, Tampa Bay (24-36-18) leads New York (25-43-9) by seven at the bottom of the East.
The Lightning nearly ended their skid Friday night in New Jersey, twice tying the Devils in regulation before suffering a 5-4 overtime defeat. The four goals were their most in regulation since a 4-3 win over Toronto on March 12, but went for naught as they dropped their fifth in a row.
“That was one of our better games in about a month,” Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. “We battled. It was nice to see. It was a good taste for guys coming back next year, that a team wins, not individuals. This was the best we’ve played as a team in a long time.”
One player building momentum for 2009-10 is No. 1 overall draft pick Steven Stamkos. After scoring four times in his first 40 games, the rookie was put on a conditioning program.
Since Feb. 24, Stamkos has 11 goals and seven assists. With his 21st goal - and third in four games - in Friday’s loss, he tied Brad Richards’ franchise rookie record from 2000-01.
The Lightning will be without captain Vincent Lecavalier, who had season-ending wrist surgery on Friday. Lecavalier’s 29 goals tied him for the team lead and his 67 points ranked second behind Martin St. Louis’ 78.
The Islanders have struggled in nearly every facet of the game during their 1-5-1 stretch. They’ve been outscored 29-17, tallied one goal in their last 16 power plays and allowed opponents to score 11 times in their last 39 opportunities with the man advantage.
In Thursday night’s 5-1 home loss to Montreal, New York allowed three power-play goals in the first 23:12 en route to a 4-0 deficit.
“I’m upset about the penalties,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “If you’re going to take a penalty, it’s to save a goal. I don’t think there were too many saved goals tonight.”
With victories in two of the three previous meetings, the Islanders are trying to win this season series for the second straight year. They are also seeking their fourth straight home win over the Lightning.