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Islanders look to continue enjoying comforts of home in Game 3

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – After a second two-day break, the New York Islanders return home to Barclays Center Monday night hoping to swing momentum in their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Coming off a 4-1 loss in Game 2 on Saturday, the Islanders will look to continue enjoying the comforts of home that they’ve experienced during their rookie year in Brooklyn. In the regular season, New York finished with a 25-11-5 record at Barclays Center, tied for the fifth-most wins at home in the NHL. They're 2-1 with a pair of overtime victories in the postseason.

The last time Islanders fans saw their team in person they were euphorically celebrating John Tavares’ Game 6 overtime winner against the Florida Panthers that sent the team into the second round for the first time since 1993. Now that that ghost has been exorcised, a new beginning starts with Game 3.

“This is a game now where we’re by the first round. We realize that when you’re looking up at the TV and you see only eight teams left and you’re one of them, you’re pretty proud of that,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. “It’s exciting and you want to keep playing.

“I don’t think we’re going to have to control their emotions. I think that guys know what they need to do. They’re a little disappointed after the last game. Tonight hopefully we can get out there tonight, the biggest thing for us is hopefully get the matchups that we want and how the game’s going to be dictated and play with the pace we need to play with.”

The importance of matchups and getting the last change is the NHL’s most recent addition to home ice advantage. In Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper has been able to get Victor Hedman out when Tavares’ line hopped over the boards. Now in Brooklyn, Capuano can keep his captain away from the Tampa blue liner a bit more.

Playing at home also has its minor drawbacks. Teams try to feed off the energy in the building, but should they fall behind early, the buzz turns into nerves, or worse players get a little too amped up.

“[We’ve] just got to use that energy in a positive way and you can’t be running around out of position,” said Kyle Okposo. “But at the same time you’ve got to be finishing your hits and just playing with energy and playing with urgency and playing desperate out there.”

After experiencing a raucous building in Round 1, the Islanders will know how to react to at least two more energetic nights at Barclays.

“Nerves, excitement, it’s all part of the game. [It’s a] special time of year. The fans have waited a long time for a team to get past that first round. Everybody’s excited. We’re just ready to get out there and play.”

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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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