John Tavares had two goals and two assists in the first period and New York ruined the return of former Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson in a 5-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
Tavares was credited with his first goal of the season just 36 seconds in when Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman swatted in a rebound of his shot. His second of the night with 3:45 remaining in the first pushed the Islanders' lead to 3-1. He also helped set up linemates Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau as New York led 4-1 through 20 minutes.
Somewhat surprisingly, Roloson resumed his place in the crease to start the second period, but he was gone less than seven minutes in when Michael Grabner knocked in a rebound of Kyle Okposo's shot that went off the goalie's glove and down his back.
Al Montoya earned his third straight start in goal for New York and won for the second time in two outings. The only difference this time was that Evgeni Nabokov served as his backup in place of oft-injured Rick DiPietro, who got hurt in practice on Wednesday when a shot from teammate Brian Rolston struck him in the mask.
The lone bright spot for the Lightning was the first goal of the season for star forward Steven Stamkos, who tied the game 1-1 at 7:10 of the first. The goal was originally credited to former Islanders defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Montoya shook that off and was as solid as necessary, finishing with 34 saves.
Roloson was dealt from the Islanders to the Lightning on New Year's Day, and he was a key player in Tampa Bay's run to the Eastern Conference finals. The start to this season hasn't been kind to Tampa Bay or Roloson.
The Lightning have dropped three of the first four games in their opening five-game road trip (1-2-1), and Roloson has allowed 10 goals on 61 shots in his last two outings. Roloson was touched for five goals on 43 shots in a 6-5 overtime loss to Washington on Monday and then gave up five more to the Islanders on 18 shots in just under 27 minutes.
Roloson trudged off the ice and down the tunnel quickly after the first period, and made the same agitated trek after he was pulled in favor of Mathieu Garon in the second. Roloson returned moments later to take his seat.
Garon stopped all 16 shots he faced.
Tavares, whose career best is five points in a game, was held in check in the Islanders' first two game, going without a point as New York earned a split against Florida and Minnesota. He played a strong game in a 2-1 win over the Wild on Monday, and broke out in a big way Thursday once he got the early gift from Hedman.
After Stamkos got Tampa Bay even, Moulson got to a loose puck in front that had been nudged by Tavares and scored his first of the season at 9:28. Tavares finished a pretty three-way passing play involving Moulson and Parenteau with 4:45 left in the first to make it 3-1, and Parenteau converted another feed from Tavares with 1:21 to go to complete the opening-period spurt.
NOTES: The Islanders' record for points in a period is six, set by Bryan Trottier against the New York Rangers on Dec. 23, 1978. Trottier finished with a team-record eight points. ... The Lightning's 12 goals this season have been scored by 11 players. Martin St. Louis is the only one with two. ... The Islanders sent 18-year-old C Ryan Strome back to his junior team, the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League. ... New York took center Jeremy Colliton off the injured list and placed him on waivers. ... Tampa Bay has lost five of six in the series, including three of four last season. ... The Lightning will visit Florida on Saturday before taking on the Panthers again Monday in the home opener. ... Tampa Bay has killed all 22 short-handed situations this season, and went 4 for 4 against the Islanders, including a two-man advantage.