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Islanders hoping extra rest can turn around fortunes vs. Lightning

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning will finally reach Game 4 of their second-round series on Friday night nine days after it began. You can blame a radio station rock concert and Justin Bieber for that – though the Lightning, specifically Vladislav Namestnikov, didn’t mind seeing the Biebs perform. 

Concerts at both Amalie Arena in Tampa and Barclays Center in Brooklyn have been the reason why there’s been two full days off between the first four games of the series. The extra day’s rest has been good for the Lightning considering they’ve won the last two games and look to take a 3-1 series lead Friday night.

The Islanders, however, have had to spend nearly the last 72 hours with the sour taste of Brian Boyle’s Game 3 overtime winner in their minds. Having also lost Game 4 of their opening round series with the Florida Panthers following an extra day of rest, they certainly wished they could get back out on the ice again Wednesday night.

“It’s a little unordinary. You don’t see that a lot in the playoffs,” said Islanders forward Matt Martin. “Usually it’s a day between games. Obviously they’re going through the same thing. It’s a good opportunity to capitalize on some rest, and at this point in the year a lot of guys have little nagging things or are a little banged up and we can use that to our advantage to get healthier and get some rest along the way.”

Like Martin said, the extra days off are a two-way street. The Lightning are nursing some of their own back to health who very well could return in this series, namely Anton Stralman who was labeled as “doubtful” by head coach Jon Cooper following Game 3. But despite the longer wait time, Tampa has responded much better than New York has in both cases. 

“For me, we’ve had some tough losses over the year,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “I just like when we get right back at it. But there’s nothing you can do with the schedule, both teams have to deal with it. For us, you get another day’s rest and guys that have bumps and bruises, works for both sides, obviously, they’ve got some guys that are probably going to be expected back tonight that haven’t played, too. But you’ve got to be ready to go.”

Mental preparation for each player is different. The Islanders’ Game 3 loss was an emotional one given not only did they blow three leads and end up losing in overtime, but also because they felt Boyle should have been penalized before he scored the winning goal. 

There are players who put the ending of Game 3 out of their minds Tuesday night. Others probably sat on it for a day before clearing their heads.

However losses are processed and extra days are handled, the Islanders understand the importance of Game 4.

“There’s a lot of hockey to be played. There’s going to be ups and downs in this series,” said Martin. “Obviously it was a disappointing way to lose but we’ll battle back from it, we’ll learn from it and get better.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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