UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- After emptying the tank, the
New York Islanders
find themselves extremely low on fuel.
Tampa Bay Lightning
took a commanding lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Islanders as Martin St. Louis scored a shorthanded goal en route to another 3-0 victory.
All four games have ended with an identical score, the last two in favor of the Lightning on New York's home ice. Tampa Bay withstood early aggression from the Islanders to take a three games to one lead in the best-of-seven series.
"This was a must-win for them," St. Louis said. "We knew they were going to empty the tank and we have to empty the tank ourselves and more. You don't want to give them a chance, you don't want to give them any breathing area."
The Islanders must win three straight games to claim their first series victory since 1993. The Lightning are on the verge of the second playoff series win in team history.
"We're making it too easy for Tampa, we're wasting energy on ourselves," Islanders captain
said. "Everybody has to have commitment and if they don't, I'll be the first one to get in their face and tell them how disappointed I am."
The Islanders were in Tampa Bay's face early in Game Four, especially hard-hitting winger
, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Game One and set the tone with some physical play.
"They had some juice," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We expected that."
Tampa Bay survived the early excitement at Nassau Coliseum and opened the scoring 10 1/2 minutes into the game.
St. Louis forced Isles defenseman
into his own zone with a hawking forecheck, stripped him of the puck in the slot and put a snapper through the pads of goaltender
for his third goal of the series.
"That was a big goal," said St. Louis, who led the NHL with eight shorthanded goals during the season and is the favorite for the Hart Trophy as its most valuable player. "I'm happy, not just to strip him but to finish the play as well."
The Islanders didn't seem deflated, holding a 12-6 edge in shots in the opening period and a 23-13 advantage over the first 40 minutes. But they couldn't put a puck past
Khabibulin made 33 saves for his third shutout of the series. He had just one in 34 playoff appearances before this year.
"He's been tremendous," St. Louis said. "You're only going to go as far as your goalie. Khabby wants that pressure. He's the backbone of the defense."
"He's been our best player," Tortorella added.
finished a 2-on-1 with with
at 18:03 of the second period to make it 2-0 and
beat DiPietro with a slap shot 94 seconds into the third to cap the scoring.
The Islanders were booed off the ice after two periods by the crowd of 16,234. Twenty minutes later, they found themselves in a deep hole.
"The first thing we can't do is look at it like we have to win three games," said Peca, whose team has lost four straight playoff series.
"Three to one is not a winner yet," Islanders coach Steve Stirling added. "We have to play hard and see where the chips fall."
The Lightning can put away the series at home on Friday. The top seed in the East is looking to win a series for the second time in as many years but isn't looking past Game Five.
"This is not over yet," St. Louis said. "We know that."