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NEW YORK – John Tavares got his 30th goal and two assists, and the New York Islanders scored three times in a 5:15 span to get a crucial 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.
Ryan Pulock, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson and Johnny Boychuk also scored for the Islanders, and Thomas Greiss had 32 saves. New York holds the Eastern Conference's first wild-card spot and won for the third time in four games to reduce its magic number to two over Boston to secure a third straight postseason berth.
Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman scored for the Lightning, and Ben Bishop gave up five goals on 23 shots before he was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 13 shots. Tampa Bay remained two points behind first-place Florida in the Atlantic Division, and the Lightning's magic number for their third consecutive playoff berth remained at one.
The Lightning were without star Steven Stamkos, who had surgery to remove a blood clot from near his right collarbone Monday and is expected to miss 1 to 3 months.
The Islanders remained two points behind the crosstown-rival Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division, and the teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. The Islanders improved to 10-2-1 at home since the All-Star break and play two of their last four at Barclays Center.
Martin put the Islanders ahead 2-1 with 9 minutes remaining in the second when he took a pass from Cal Clutterbuck, cut toward the net and lifted the puck in off Bishop for his ninth of the season.
Nelson made it a two-goal game about 4 1/2 minutes later when he got ahead of Lightning defenders, took a perfect pass from Nikolay Kulemin and lifted a backhand into the top right corner.
With the Lightning's J.T. Brown off for a high-stick to Clutterbuck's face, Tavares made it 4-1 with a slap shot from the top of the left circle with 3:45 left in the second. Kyle Okposo had his team-high 39th assist on the play.
Hedman pulled the Lightning back within two with his 10th of the season with 7 seconds left in the middle period.
Bishop stopped two shots by Anders Lee on a breakaway, but Boychuk wristed it in at 4:28 of the third. Tavares had his second assist of the game and team-high 64th point on the score.
NOTES: The Lightning opened a season-ending four-game trip and fell to 20-16-2 away from home. ... The teams split their first two meetings of the season, both at Tampa. The Islanders won 3-2 on Nov. 28 and the Lightning won 7-4 on March 25. ... Islanders D Calvin de Haan left the game late in the first after taking a shot by Kucherov off his right knee earlier in the period. He was ruled out for the rest of the game early in the third. ... New York called up G Christopher Gibson from Bridgeport of the AHL on an emergency loan to back up Greiss with Jean-Francois Berube out with a lower-body injury. ... At the morning skate, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said his players "need to play better" and specifically named Ryan Strome, Nelson and Josh Bailey. Strome came in with just two assists in his last 12 games, Bailey had four assists in his last 10 and Nelson three goals and an assist in his previous nine.