New York Islanders Thomas Greiss
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A hot start in the first period for the New York Islanders set the tone of the game as they handed the Tampa Bay Lightning a rare loss.

Matt Di Giacomo

  • New York Islanders 5 (25-15-4, 54 points)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning 1 (35-9-2, 72 points)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
The New York Islanders stunned both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the hockey world in their dominant performance over the NHL’s best team.

It all started (and ended) in the first period.

The Islanders came out with blazing speed against a team that has dominated them over the last several seasons. Prior to Sunday, the Lightning had won six out of their last seven games against the Isles, but it would have been hard to imagine that tonight.

Everything that Barry Trotz was looking for out of his team in their lackadaisical bout against the New York Rangers was present. Right off of puck drop, the Islanders dictated the pace of the game, Brock Nelson opened the scoring on the powerplay less than a minute and a half into the first period.

Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas both registered goals with Matt Martin picking up primary assists on each.

The aforementioned bash brothers had career-defining performances as they led the way for the Islanders throughout, starting with Clutter’s tally.

Just 16 seconds later, Devon Toews slams his third goal of the season behind Andrei Vasilevskiy and is now tied for the team lead in goals by a defenseman.

This was Toews’ 10th game this season.

The Islanders have continued to double down in the face of adversity. Coming off of a demoralizing 2-1 loss to their archrival New York Rangers, Barry Trotz’s squad made a total 360-degree turn from the effort displayed just one night prior.

Execution on the game plan was virtually flawless, with the Islanders holding off Tampa’s bursts of offense down through the worst of it in the second period.

On the 11th anniversary of his NHL debut, Thomas Greiss shut the door for the Islanders stopping over 20 Lightning shots in the second period alone and a total of 38.

Robin Lehner was on an incredible tear for the Islanders and is in midseason contention for the Vezina, but Greiss reiterated his case for the starting job with a strong performance against the league’s best offense.

The Islanders have a lot to feel good about in this game, they netted five goals, held the Bolts to just one, and were perfect on all specialty teams (1-for-1 on the powerplay, 3-for-3 on the penalty kill).

Just as the Islanders seemed to be skidding into old habits, they’ve managed to pull themselves out with a dominant performance in the nick of time.

The Islanders look ahead to another tough matchup against the St. Louis Blues who have won five of their last six games. Their lone loss came against the Islanders.

For now, the Islanders can savor some well-earned rest.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.