Islanders-Lightning Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 23, 2012
The Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos still has a sizable lead in the NHL's goal-scoring race despite failing to record a point over four consecutive games. The All-Star center will try to break out of his rare lengthy drought as he faces the New York Islanders and fellow No. 1 draft pick John Tavares on Saturday night. Stamkos reached 50 goals for the second time in his career by scoring twice in a win over Boston on March 13. That performance also left him one shy of tying his personal best from 2009-10, when he finished tied with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the league lead. He is currently outpacing Crosby's teammate Evgeni Malkin by five in this season's race. While Stamkos was held off the scoresheet again Thursday, he was among the three Lightning players who scored in the shootout during a 3-2 victory over Edmonton. Dwayne Roloson, who has been starting in place of an injured Mathieu Garon, was in net for the end of a three-game skid. "When someone works as hard as (Roloson) does in practice, it was nice to get the win for him," Stamkos said. The center will try to lead his team to back-to-back wins for the first time since the end to a four-game streak March 6 while continuing his recent success against the Islanders (30-32-11). Stamkos, the top pick in the 2008 draft, has seven goals and six assists over his last 10 matchups, and two goals and an assist during the three this season. He scored one of those goals during a 4-1 home victory Oct. 20, but New York prevailed in each of the two games in Long Island, both times by 5-1 margins. The Islanders travel to Tampa Bay (33-33-7) in search of their first three-game win streak since Jan. 17-21, and more strong performances from their young players might help them achieve that goal. Matt Moulson scored a pair of goals during a 5-2 win in Toronto on Tuesday, giving him at least 30 for the third straight campaign, while Tavares and P.A. Parenteau had three points apiece. "Three straight 30-goal seasons isn't easy to do. You have to pay a price, and he's willing to do that. We're lucky to have him," Tavares said of Moulson. Evgeni Nabokov needed to make only 12 saves to snap a personal four-game losing streak and signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract extension with the Islanders the next day. While it's unknown if Nabokov will start Saturday's game, Roloson is expected to play in his 600th game and make his 550th start. Roloson will try to make those milestones memorable by earning only his second win in six matchups with one of his former teams. He has a 3.63 goals-against average over those past five games against New York and gave up five goals on 18 shots during a loss at the Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 13. If Nabokov joins Roloson on the ice Saturday, the game will feature goaltenders with a combined 533 wins. Tavares will try to help whoever starts for his team by adding to his club-best six points against Tampa Bay this season. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, however, produced all of those during the two home matchups and has been held to one assist in his five career games in Tampa Bay.
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