7 P.M., BARCLAYS CENTER, NBCSN,
1. ISLES LOOK TO EVEN SERIES:
The Islanders season isn’t on the line in Game 4, but the stakes are high on Friday night.
A win evens the series 2-2, a situation the Islanders are more than familiar with given their recent history, but a loss put them on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 heading back to Tampa Bay.
The Islanders know what the score is, but they are counting on their resiliency to overcome their first real adversity of the 2016 playoffs.
“I’m confident in our group,” captain John Tavares said. “We’ve had our backs up against the wall many times over the last few years, especially this year, so we know it’s an important one. We put the last one behind us, time to move forward and we’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”
From the coach on down, the Islanders felt that Game 3 was one of their best games of the season, let alone playoffs. They shot the puck, created chances and played physical. The result was there, but they felt the process was.
“We played well enough to win and probably deserved to win,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “I think we made a mistake in the last minute of the game that we can’t make. Playing against a team that’s opportunistic that’s kind of what happens. We have to make sure we keep the same 60 minute plan, and still feel like if we play that way we give ourselves a good chance to win.”
2. THOMAS HICKEY’S STATUS:
After absorbing a big hit from Brian Boyle in overtime of Game 3, Thomas Hickey went through practice on Thursday and said he feels ready to compete in Game 4 on Friday night.
“We sat with the doctors and stuff and went through the necessary stuff,” Hickey said referencing the NHL’s concussion protocol. “I’m feeling good.”
Head coach Jack Capuano said he felt Boyle caught Hickey in the head on Tuesday, but the Islanders’ defenseman opted not to comment on the hit, saying it didn’t matter anymore.
Capuano seemed encouraged by his defenseman’s progress.
“He rested yesterday, practiced today and hopefully he’ll be good for tomorrow,” Capuano said.
3. RYAN PULOCK'S STATUS:
Ryan Pulock said he feels like he’s improving and could be close to returning to the Islanders lineup, though neither he or the coaching staff have decided on his status for Game 4.
“It’s one of those things where it’s improving,” Pulock said. “It’s not going to be perfect right, that’s just the way it is and a matter of time before it feels good enough and strong enough to go. Right now it could be soon, we’ll see how the days go.”
Pulock was injured in Game 4 against the Florida Panthers and was expected to miss 1-2 weeks. He’s past the two-week mark by a couple of days, but said it was a realization, rather than a setback that’s caused him to miss the extra days.
Head coach Jack Capuano said he would evaluate Pulock ahead of Game 4.
“We’ll get an idea of where he is. With the extra days off obviously helps, but it’s one of those things with all the healthy D that we have we just want to make sure he’s as close to 100% as possible to try to help us.”
4. CARLE, CONDRA PRACTICE:
Injured Lightning forward Erik Condra and injured defenseman Matt Carle both participated in practice on Thursday and could be available for Game 4, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Both acquired their injuries - Condra suffered an upper-body injury, while Carle’s injury was undisclosed – in Game 1.