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Lightning expect hits to keep coming from Islanders

Tampa Bay holds 2-1 lead in physical series with Game 4 on Friday

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders have had a very physical Eastern Conference Second Round series, and the Lightning don't expect that to change in Game 4 at Barclays Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 2-1 after winning Game 3 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.

The Islanders outhit the Lightning 44-34 in Game 3. New York defenseman Thomas Hickey hit Tampa Bay forward Jonathan Drouin up high early in the second period but was not given a penalty. Drouin missed the rest of the period but returned in the third period and assisted on the tying goal with 38.4 seconds left.

Hickey was hit by Lightning forward Brian Boyle and was taken out of the play moments before Boyle scored 2:48 into overtime.

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm3: Boyle beats Greiss to win it in OT

"It's a direct shot to the head," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of Boyle's hit after the game. "He is probably going to get suspended a game. It shouldn't come down to that ... those are the types of hits that we are trying to eliminate from our game. It's just too bad that it had to end that way."

Neither Hickey nor Boyle was given a disciplinary hearing by the NHL Department of Player Safety.

The Lightning are expecting the hits to keep coming from the Islanders in Game 4.  

"I think that's their game, especially that fourth line (Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck), they like to come hard and we need to match that and bring the physicality like I thought we did [Tuesday]," Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek said Wednesday after an optional practice. "I think they are going to give everything they got. They are at home and are going to come out and give everything. It's going to be a battle."

Boyle had two hits Tuesday. Forwards Cedric Paquette and Ryan Callahan led the Lightning with six each. Islanders forward Kyle Okposo had a game-high 10 hits.

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

"How many hits were in that game, 70-80 hits?" Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game. "I would say there were 15 harder than the one Boyle was involved in, and one (Hickey's hit on Drouin) was really a hard hit."

Hits aren't the only concern for the Lightning. They hope to have an easier time in the first period; they were outshot 17-9 Tuesday and were lucky to escape the period tied 1-1.  

"We knew they were going to push back hard, and they did that in the first period coming out with 17 or whatever shots," Koekkoek said. "It was definitely a hard push, but we weathered it. We bent but we didn't break and [goalie Ben] Bishop was a huge part of that and we're so lucky to have him back there."

Forward Mike Blunden said it's good that Tampa Bay knows it can rally if necessary. The Lightning tied the score three times in Game 3.

Video: TBL@NYI, Gm3: Kucherov beats Greiss to tie the game

"It just shows the character in this room," Blunden said. "These guys just keep battling and battling and battling no matter what the score is. These guys just put their work boots on and try to find a way to climb back in and [Tuesday] was one of those games where we just kept clawing and found a way to win in overtime."

Koekkoek says the Lightning can't be satisfied with one win on the road.

"It's definitely a must-win," he said of Game 4. "We're trying to get to that 3-1 goal before we head home and that would be huge for us."

Defenseman Anton Stralman (leg), forward J.T. Brown (upper body) and center Steven Stamkos (vascular surgery) were among those participating in practice. Stralman appears the closest to returning, although he likely won't play in Game 4.

Stamkos took part in the full practice, skating, shooting and building up his stamina. He began skating last week and said that when he is off blood thinners he would return to game action soon after.

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