UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Martin Biron might not be around if the New York Islanders make another playoff push, but for now the third-string goalie is giving his current teammates a chance to think a late-season run is possible.
After a long layoff and a brief stint in the minor leagues, Biron earned his second straight win as the Islanders outlasted the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 on Saturday.
With Dwayne Roloson’s strong play and Rick DiPietro’s return from a knee injury, Biron made only his third appearance with the Islanders in 25 games. Coupled with a shootout victory against Nashville on Tuesday, Biron has won two in a row. New York has two wins in three following a seven-game losing streak.
Biron was tabbed to start Saturday after DiPietro came down with the flu, and Roloson likely to play Sunday against Ottawa in the last game before the Olympic break. After that, Biron will be on the trading block as the Islanders look to eliminate the three-goalie logjam.
“It’s not good to have a long-term situation that way,” said Biron (4-11-2), who stopped 38 shots. “I still feel like I’ve got plenty more I can do. These were two big wins, but I am my own worst critic and I feel like I can play even better.
“Whatever teams are out there, not that they didn’t know I could come through and win some big games, but maybe that is going to help out a little bit more.”
Richard Park scored twice, including the winning goal with 2:22 left. Park, who gave New York a 4-3 lead with 2:48 remaining in the second period, put a rebound of his wraparound attempt inside the crossbar and right post. The goal was confirmed by a video review.
“It was a fortunate call for us and we’ll take the two points,” Park said. “I thought it was in, but you never know.”
Blake Comeau, Doug Weight, and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders, who moved within five points of the ninth-place Lightning in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning, whose four-game winning streak was snapped in a 5-4 loss to Boston on Thursday, had goals from Steven Stamkos, defenceman Mike Lundin, Nate Thompson, and Steve Downie. Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves for Tampa Bay, 7-3-1 in its last 11.
Downie had tied it 4-4 at 2:57 of the third.
“We are very disappointed,” forward Martin St. Louis said. “We gave Richard Park three shots in a 4-4 game and he doesn’t get touched. Three shots. It’s tough to take.”
Thompson scored against his former team at 12:27 of the second, pushing the Lightning in front 3-2. It was his first game on Long Island since Tampa Bay claimed him off waivers on Jan. 21.
After rookie John Tavares turned over the puck in the New York zone, the Lightning worked it around to Alex Tanguay in the left circle. Tanguay did a spin move and found Thompson for the redirection. Thompson’s other goal this season was scored on Dec. 21 for the Islanders against the Lightning.
The Islanders responded with the tying and go-ahead goals a minute apart.
Okposo made it 3-3 when he took a feed from Tavares in traffic by the left post and pushed the puck past Niittymaki at 16:12. Park then converted a rebound in the slot off a shot by Comeau, his first goal in 11 games.
“We’re obviously trying to stay real positive and upbeat,” Park said. “Everyone knows we haven’t been getting the results we’ve wanted, but we’ve kept at it.”
Weight, the Islanders’ 39-year-old captain, 2-2 tied things at 4:26 to end a season-long goal drought. Limited to 30 games by illness and injury, Weight scored for the first time since April 12.
Stamkos was the more impressive No. 91, outshining Tavares as he continues his strong sophomore season. Drafted No. 1 in 2008, Stamkos had a goal and assist to stretch his career-best point streak to 12 games. He has 34 goals and 34 assists this season.
Tavares, chosen No. 1 last year, had one assist but his goal-less streak was extended to 13 games.
“I don’t pay attention to the other players,” Stamkos said. “I pay attention to my teammates and myself and what I’m doing to help my team win.”
Tavares lost a faceoff to Stamkos that set up Tampa Bay’s go-ahead goal in the first. Stamkos won the puck back to Lundin, whose shot made it 2-1 with 5:31 left.
Stamkos had tied it 3:15 earlier when St. Louis fed him with a perfect pass in front.
The Islanders killed off a two-man power play that lasted 1:19 in the opening minutes and withstood a breakaway chance by Downie at 2:33, before grabbing the lead on Comeau’s goal at 7:31.
NOTES: St. Louis had one goal and seven assists against the Islanders this season. Stamkos posted four goals and three assists in the four-game series, won 3-1 by the Lightning. … New York’s previous regulation win was a 4-0 victory against New Jersey on Jan. 18.