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5 Keys: Lightning at Islanders, Game 3

New York wants to be harder to play against; Tampa Bay trying to continue third-period dominance

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

TAMPA -- The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series Tuesday at Barclays Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

Here are 5 Keys for Game 3:


With New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey apparently ready to return from injury, Ryan Strome will be scratched again. The reason is revealing, not only for Strome but the Islanders as a whole.

"Got to be a little harder to play against," Strome said Tuesday.

Strome, the fifth pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, was scratched the final two games of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Florida Panthers. He played the first two games against the Lightning because of Bailey's absence and had two assists in a 5-3 win in Game 1. But he didn't do enough in Game 2, a 4-1 loss.

It wasn't just Strome who didn't do enough in Game 2. The Islanders had five shots on goal after falling behind 3-1 11:59 into the second period. Coach Jack Capuano wants the Islanders to be more physical, get to the net better and generate more shots.

Video: Lightning even series with 4-1 win in Game 2

"You have to have the will to compete at a higher level," Capuano said. "When you're talking about getting to the areas that you want to get to, that doesn't take any structural involvement as far as your game plan or how you want your guys to play. It just takes the will to compete."


In the first two games, the Lightning outshot the Islanders in the third period 29-8. Trailing 4-1 entering the third period of Game 1, the Lightning were desperate while the Islanders sat back and had their lead trimmed to 4-3. In Game 2 the Lightning entered the third with a 3-1 lead and didn't make the same mistake the Islanders did in Game 1.

"I like the fact that we were just attacking," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Monday. "We weren't sitting back trying to protect the lead. But when you have the puck a lot you tend to keep coming at them in waves. That's what we were doing. So now we've just got to carry that into this building."

The Islanders know they can't let it happen again.

"I just think we need to play our game," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said Tuesday. "They're obviously a fast team. That's how they dictate the play, by using their speed and coming up the ice fast. I don't think we've played our best in this series so far. We were fortunate to get a split down there."


With the series shifting to Brooklyn, the Islanders have last change on faceoffs. Capuano can get captain John Tavares away from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman at least some of the time.

Tavares had a goal and an assist in Game 1. He leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs with six goals and is tied for second with 11 points. But he was quiet in Game 2. Okposo had an assist in Game 1 but was quiet in Game 2 as well.

"The biggest thing for us is hopefully get the matchups that we want and how the game is going to be dictated and play with the pace we need to play with," Capuano said.

Video: NYI@TBL, Gm2: Hedman banks puck off de Haan and in


Barclays Center isn't Nassau Coliseum. But this will be the first second-round game the Islanders have played at home since 1993. They have to use it to their advantage; the Lightning have to weather it.

"The energy's going to be off the charts in this building, like it has been the first three games of the playoffs, and we're looking forward to it," Okposo said. "Just got to use that energy in a positive way. You can't be running around out of position. At the same time you've got to be finishing your hits, just playing with energy, playing with urgency and playing desperate out there.


To emphasize Okposo's point, the Islanders need to stay under control. For all the talk about being physical and going to the net, it can backfire. In Game 2, Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck ran into Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop and was called for goaltender interference. That led to Hedman's power-play goal that gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead.

"Obviously you've got to be smart about it," Clutterbuck said. "I think it's more for us, we're going to work on just getting some traffic in front, maybe get in position to shoot the puck a little more. I think just a little bit harder all over the ice."

The Lightning need to stay out of the box, too. They have spent more time on the penalty kill (54:57) than any team in the playoffs.

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