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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Lightning

The Islanders host the Lightning in a playoff rematch

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders
New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
7:30 p.m., Barclays Center - Buy Tickets 
Radio: WFAN 660AM/101.9FM, 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM LI News

The New York Islanders have waited all summer for their next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Tuesday night, they'll get it. 

The Islanders and Lightning meet in a playoff rematch, meeting for the first time since May 8 when the Bolts eliminated the Isles in Game 5 of their second round series. 

"It's the team that knocked you out last year when it mattered most," Brock Nelson said. "Long time to think about that one, how it went and the way it ended for us. I think everybody remembers and hopefully it fuels everybody in here."

The series had a what-could-have-been feel to it for the Islanders, who lost both home games in overtime, losing a last-minute lead in a pivotal Game 3. In August, John Tavares said the Islanders learned a lot from the Lightning series, but the biggest lesson from that series was to close out games - win the ones you're supposed to win. 

"You really have to win the games you deserve to win," Tavares said. "There were a couple of those where we felt we had a great opportunity to take and change the series, but it didn't go that way."

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm3: Hickey delivers hit to Drouin

Tampa Bay managed to retain its key pieces in the offseason, signing Steven Stamkos to an eight-year deal and recently inking Nikita Kucherov to a three-year contract, so they're largely returning the same squad that went to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and the Stanley Cup Finals a year before. 

"This will be a real challenge and a good test for us," head coach Jack Capuano said. "They have a lot of firepower, they have some guys on the back end who we know what they can do and they're quick, they're fast. This is going to be a game where we have to play structured, we have to defend well and be on the right side of the puck." 

Stamkos leads the Bolts with 10 points (6G, 4A) and is tied with Alex Killorn for the team-lead in goals. The Lightning are 5-4-0 to start the season, but have lost three straight, most recently 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday. 

The Islanders enter Tuesday's contest on the heels of a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Five different Islanders had multi-point games in Sunday's win, including Nelson, who now leads the team with nine points (3G, 6A) in nine games. 

Prince Sparking Islanders: 

Video: TOR@NYI: Seidenberg, Prince help set up Nelson

Shane Prince has four points (2G, 2A) in two games since returning from a lower-body injury. The Islanders winger has been a sparkplug in his two games back, playing with some pent-up energy. 

"I never like being out for injuries and I just put the work in while I was out," said Prince, who took advantage off a Jhonas Enroth misplay behind the net on Sunday to score his second goal of the season. "I worked on my skills and my skating and made sure I was ready to go when I got back in."

He's formed some instant chemistry with Brock Nelson, setting up Nelson's goal on Sunday with a quick turnaround pass in front of the net, while Nelson has assisted on both of Prince's goals. 

Defensemen Scoring Streak Continues:

Video: TOR@NYI: Hamonic beats Enroth a minute into the game

The Islanders have gotten goals from their defenseman in five straight games, tying a franchise record. Travis Hamonic lit the lamp for the Islanders on Sunday, giving him goals in back-to-back games. All six defensemen have at least one goal and have a league-leading nine as a defensive unit.

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