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Five keys for Islanders at Lightning, Game 1

Tampa Bay has goaltending edge on paper; patience on power play important for New York

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders open their Eastern Conference Second Round series Wednesday at Amalie Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Here are five keys for Game 1:

1. Turn the page: The Islanders won a Stanley Cup Playoff series for the first time since 1993 when they defeated the Florida Panthers in the first round. It was a huge moment for the franchise and a first for many of the players. Then they found out Monday night they would have to fly to Tampa on Tuesday and start the second round Wednesday night. 

Time to forget what they have accomplished and look at what remains to be accomplished.

"We want to turn the page and get the focus on this," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "I think that'll really hit you once you step on the ice for warmups and get involved in the first few shifts. Every game is crucial, and certainly don't want to start slowly."

Video: Tavares, first line shining for the Islanders

2. Use what you've got: The Lightning have more playoff experience, having made the Stanley Cup Final last season. That can be an advantage. But the Islanders have some experience of their own. They lost a Game 7 against the Washington Capitals last year; coach Jack Capuano said they were tight and he hoped they were beyond that. They have a couple of players who have won the Cup elsewhere: Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. And now that they're in the second round, they can be energized by the excitement of pushing into the unknown. That can work to your advantage too, as it did for the Lightning last year.

"You've got a chance to win the Stanley Cup," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "You should be relaxed, poised, confident. Go out and have fun."

3. Establish/handle the forecheck: The Lightning hounded the Detroit Red Wings on the forecheck at times in the first round, forcing mistakes. They will want to do the same in this round, and the Islanders will want to do the same to them. One difference: The Islanders have more speed and size than the Red Wings did and could pose more problems.

Video: New York Islanders, Brooklyn, NHL

"You've got to make sure you get back there quick and make a decision and make sure that we have options," Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn said. "The biggest thing is, you get back there, we're going to have to move it as a five-man unit and make sure we have options and then get on offense."

4. Get to Greiss: The Lightning have the advantage in goal on paper. Ben Bishop likely will be a Vezina Trophy finalist for the second time in his career and he was excellent in the first round. He had a .950 save percentage and shut out the Red Wings when they were facing elimination. But it's on Bishop and his teammates to make it an advantage on the ice. Thomas Greiss was outstanding for the Islanders in the first round with a .944 save percentage against the Panthers, winning three overtime games.

"He's not sitting back in his net," Capuano said. "He's outside the top of the crease. He's making that first save. We're clearing pucks for him. And that's what you want. Especially against a power play like this that is very dynamic in what they do and how they do it, he's going to have to come up big for us."

5: Be patient: The Islanders scored five power-play goals in six games in the first round; the Lightning allowed one power-play goal in five games. The Islanders have been criticized for passing too much, and they're facing a penalty kill that does a great job of clogging lanes and blocking shots. The Islanders know two members of the unit well - Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan - who used to do the same against them often with the New York Rangers. They can't get frustrated and force shots.

Video: SAP Round 2 Infographics Series Preview: NYI TBL

"It sounds always simple to just shoot the puck, get the puck to the net," Tavares said. "But you've got to get it there, and teams do a good job of closing you off, and certainly they had a lot of success in the first round. We want to have good puck movement. We want to make it difficult to defend, hard to cover shooting lanes and passing lanes."

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