Islanders still skeptical critical Steven Stamkos goal should have been allowed

TAMPA, Fla. — Steven Stamkos’ tip-in goal 21 seconds into the third period of Saturday’s game all but ended any chance the Islanders had of completing a comeback on the Lightning.

After the 4-1 loss, the Islanders ranged from unsure whether it should have counted to believing that Stamkos’ stick was surely high when it caught Emil Lilleberg’s shot from the point.

“I disagreed with it,” Kyle Palmieri said. “That’s all I’ll say.”

The goal was called good on the ice and confirmed upon review, meaning that the replay was not merely inconclusive but definitive.

That was surprising given Stamkos’ stick appeared to be above the crossbar, or at least too close to tell for sure.

“I would leave it to the ref,” Semyon Varlamov said. “I don’t want to speculate. I watched the replay, I thought it was kinda 50/50. So I don’t know. Of course, we don’t want to give up that one. I wish it was a high stick and the 2-1 game continued and we had a better chance to get back in the game.”

Extending the lead to 3-1 might have set a tone for the rest of the period, but the goal ultimately was not decisive, as the Islanders could not solve Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy for the final 20 minutes.

That is cold comfort at best.

“At the end, it doesn’t really matter,” coach Patrick Roy said. “We had to find a way. Do I agree with the call? No. But we need to score goals. We needed to score a goal to at least be back in that game and we just didn’t do it.”

Steven Stamkos scores his 30th goal of the season, which was reviewed for a high stick. NHLI via Getty Images

When Nikita Kucherov first came from Russia to North America in 2012, he spent six games with the Quebec Remparts, where Roy was the coach, before moving to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and eventually the Lightning.

When he came to Quebec, he just came off of a shoulder surgery,” Roy recalled of Kucherov, whose 124 points going into Saturday led the NHL. “But I was very impressed with him, how smart he is. The IQ that he has, that’s the first thing I saw and the passes that he made, the plays, how he sees the ice, I was very impressed by him.

“I guess I continue to be because it’s impressive, what him and [Brayden] Point have been doing for [the Lightning]. They’ve been the leaders of their team and they’ve been carrying this team. Yeah they have [Victor] Hedman on the back and Vasilevskiy as the goalie and [Steven] Stamkos. But those two guys have been the key of their success and Kuchy’s been really phenomenal.”

Mike Reilly’s assist in the first period was the 100th of his career.

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