Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli scored the go-ahead goal in the first period as the host Lightning scored three unanswered against the New York Islanders, beating the road-tested Metropolitan Division club 4-1 on Monday.
Shortly after the Lightning failed on the first power play, Cirelli — who briefly left the game after taking a puck to the face in the third period — grabbed a rebound and beat goalie Semyon Varlamov (24 saves) to break a 1-all tie with 38 seconds left in the first.
Brayden Point posted a goal and an assist, and Mathieu Joseph and Steven Stamkos found the net.
Victor Hedman produced two assists as the Lightning stretched their point streak to eight games overall (6-0-2) and six on home ice (4-0-2).
Andrei Vasilevskiy (7-2-3) improved to 5-0-3 in regulation games by stopping 25 of 26 shots.
Mathew Barzal scored and Zach Parise produced an assist for the Islanders, who played for the 12th time in a season-opening 13-game road stretch.
Andy Greene skated in his 1,000th career game while Jean-Gabriel Pageau was in his 500th.
The meeting between the Eastern Conference teams was their first since Tampa Bay beat the Islanders 1-0 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals on June 25.
They did not play each other during last regular-season’s realignment but met in the postseason for the second straight campaign.
The clubs will play two more times — on March 27 and April 28, both in New York’s new arena.
New York’s Zdeno Chara and the Lightning’s Pat Maroon set the tone immediately, squaring off and fighting right at the drop of the puck.
Outscored 9-2 in two straight defeats, the visitors went up 1-0 at 2:53 when Hedman turned over the puck in the offensive zone, Parise fed Barzal on a breakaway and the speedy center backhanded in his fourth tally.
Joseph matched the marker 23 seconds later by zipping home a wrister toward the far post — his second goal — in tight against Varlamov.
The Islanders had great opportunities with three power plays in the second, but Tampa Bay’s 10th-ranked penalty-kill unit denied the trio of man-advantages as Vasilevskiy stopped all 12 shots in the scoreless frame.
In a mad scramble around Varlamov, Point made it 3-1 in the third by potting in a loose puck, and Stamkos scored his eighth on the power play for the final margin.
–Field Level Media