TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) --
bounced back and
came back for the
New York Islanders
DiPietro stopped 22 shots for his first career playoff win and Blake returned from a sprained ankle to score twice as the Islanders evened their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at one game apiece with a 3-0 blanking of the
Tampa Bay Lightning
Two days after losing his NHL playoff debut, DiPietro was almost perfect. He made eight saves in each of the first two periods and six in the third, helping the Islanders kill seven power plays.
"I felt a little more comfortable," DiPietro said. "The first game you had to get out of the way. Tonight was actually more important."
DiPietro denied Hart Trophy favorite Martin St. Louis on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the first period and made a quick glove save during a scramble six minutes into the third.
"You can tell when he's at the top of his game - he is under control in the crease, seeing everything," added Islanders coach Steve Stirling, who predicted the Game One loss would "fire up" the 22-year-old goalie. "It looked like tonight every shot, traffic or no traffic, I knew he was going to see the puck."
Seconds later, Tampa Bay appeared to halve a 2-0 deficit. But the puck was kicked by
before hitting the skate of Islanders defenseman
and sliding into the net. While Lightning fans celebrated, replay officials cited Rule 70b, which states a goal "cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official."
"Well, that's the rule," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "I think it's a lousy rule. I think it was a centering pass and Vinny was trying to center it."
Tampa Bay did not threaten again and Blake scored his second goal of the third period into an empty net with 55 seconds left. Expected to miss at least another week, the speedy Blake beat
with a blast from the left faceoff circle at 3:36 to make it 2-0.
"It's a special time of year, so you've got to suck it up," Blake said. "A lot of guys only get to the playoffs once in their career. It's tough to watch without playing, and I'm a competitor."
New York wrested home-ice advantage from the top seed in the East and hosts Game Three on Monday.
"I think this is big for us," DiPietro said. "Long Island is a tough place to play when we've got the crowd going."
While both teams have scored three goals in two games, the Islanders have shut out Tampa Bay's top four scorers - St. Louis,
"I think some guys were fighting the puck a little bit," Tortorella said. "There were a number of times when it looked like we had scoring chances, but we just didn't turn it into a scoring chance."
made the most of his chance during a power play at 11:42 of the first period. He got a pass from former Lightning defenseman
along the blue line and fired a low one-timer past a screened Khabibulin for his first playoff goal since 1998.