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St. Louis, Lecavalier and Richards lead the way as Lightning beat Islanders 4-3

The Big Three of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards each had a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay beat the New York Islanders 4-3 on Monday for its fifth straight win.

The Lightning, which host Toronto on Tuesday night, have won the first two games on their road trip after splitting a four-game trip earlier this month.

"We started feeling better about ourselves on our early January road trip," Richards said. "Everybody thought we'd lose all four games, and we won our last two. That got us on a bit of a roll. Right now, we're just barely back in the playoffs, and we have to continue to be better."

Vaclav Prospal had a goal and two assists for Tampa Bay, while Johan Holmqvist stopped 33 shots for his third straight win against New York.

"As bad as we were in the first half, we were still around .500," St. Louis said. "Right now, we're on this streak because everybody's chipping in."

Alexei Yashin, Viktor Kozlov and Trent Hunter scored for the Islanders, losers of two in a row and winless in eight of their last 10 (2-7-1) - including four straight losses at home.

"It was a tough loss," said Rick DiPietro, who made 20 saves. "That was a big two points we let get away."

The Islanders capitalized on their first power play to take an early 1-0 lead when Yashin buried the rebound of Chris Simon's shot past Holmqvist at 3:38.

It was Yashin's 13th goal this season, but his first in 13 games.

The Lightning answered back on their first power play at 6:55 as Prospal's right side wrist shot trickled under DiPietro and barely crossed the line before linemate Eric Perrin pushed it in the net further.

Richards scored on Tampa Bay's next power play chance to put the Lightning ahead at 9:21. His sharp angle shot from the left side went in and out of the top of the net so quickly, the play was subjected to a video review.

"Special teams are a big part of the game," Prospal said. "The puck is now going in for us."

DiPietro knew that giving the Lightning power plays would be trouble.

"You have to expect a team like that to do well on the power play," DiPietro said. "We've got to stay out of the (penalty) box."

St. Louis took advantage of a bad line change by the Islanders to finish off a play for his 29th goal at 15:37 of the second period to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 advantage. With DiPietro down after making a save on Lecavalier, St. Louis stood between three Islanders and flipped the rebound over the prone goalie.

St. Louis now leads the league in goals, and is riding an 11-game point scoring streak. He also is tied with Anaheim's Teemu Selanne for the most goals on the road with 17.

The Islanders cut the gap to 3-2 on a two-man power-play advantage 70 seconds into the final period, as Kozlov, standing in the low right circle, found the upper far corner with a perfectly placed wrist shot.

Lecavalier made it 4-2 for the Lightning at 7:13 when he banged home a rebound of his original shot.

Hunter narrowed the gap to 4-3 at 10:40 when he beat Holmqvist with a rebound of Mike Sillinger's shot.

The Islanders pulled DiPietro in the last 75 seconds and had a few chances to score, but couldn't get the equalizer.

"At the end of the game, we were a little sloppy with our line changes," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "Guys were out there too long, and we were playing with tired people."

Notes: New York's last home win was Dec. 26, a 2-0 shutout over the rival Rangers. ... The Islanders' last win against the Lightning was a 3-0 victory on March 21, 2004, at home. ... The parents of the late Dan Snyder were in attendance, promoting the Dan Snyder Fund. They plan to attend a game in every NHL arena this season to promote awareness of the fund. Snyder was killed in September 2003 after teammate Dany Heatley's car, which he was a passenger in, crashed in an Atlanta suburb.


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