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Islanders rally late, stun Lightning 3-1

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — John Tavares and Anders Lee scored 12 seconds apart in the third period, and the New York Islanders stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 with a late comeback Saturday night.

Shut down nearly all night by first-year goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Islanders stormed back in the closing minutes after falling behind 1-0 on Brett Connolly’s goal 9:16 into the third period.

Tavares tied it with 3:09 remaining, scoring from the slot while being knocked to the ice, and Lee put New York in front when he deflected in Travis Hamonic’s shot. Nikolay Kulemin sealed it with 1:11 left on an empty-net goal, seconds after Tavares left when he was struck in the head by a puck.

Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for the win.

Connolly gave the Lightning the lead when he deflected in Tyler Johnson’s shot on the 18th shot for Tampa Bay.

With No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop out for the third straight game, Vasilevskiy earned the start over former Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov and stopped 45 shots in his second NHL appearance. Vasilevskiy beat Philadelphia in his debut on Tuesday.

Both teams entered two points behind Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh, and the Islanders won the season series 3-2.

Tampa Bay, which lost a shootout at New Jersey on Friday, is 2-5-1 in its past eight games. New York also played for the second straight night, following a 2-1 win at Detroit, and extended its winning streak to four.

The first period provided little action until the closing seconds when the Islanders generated pressure during their first power play. Vasilevskiy stopped all 12 shots he faced in the frame.

Halak had much less to deal with, facing only five shots, but he withstood a scare 4:20 in when the Lightning appeared to take a 1-0 lead. During a scrum in front, Brian Boyle kicked the puck in and was awarded a goal on the ice. But a video review clearly showed the puck being sent in by a skate, and the call was overturned.

The Islanders dominated the middle period but had nothing to show for it because of the strong play of Vasilevskiy, who made 17 saves. Halak again was barely tested as the Lightning — the NHL’s top-scoring team — generated only four shots, nine total through 40 minutes.

Not only couldn’t the Lightning sustain any offensive pressure, they struggled just getting the puck out of their own zone as the Islanders were aggressively forechecking throughout and forced numerous turnovers near the blue line.

NOTES: Lightning RW Ryan Callahan played in his 500th NHL game. … Johnson returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s game due to illness. RW J.T. Brown was scratched. … Halak has earned each of the team’s last four wins.

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