Lubomir Visnovsky in Slovakia because of death of friend's son

Lubomir Visnovsky controls the puck against Jiri Tlusty

Lubomir Visnovsky controls the puck against Jiri Tlusty of the Hurricanes. (Feb. 11, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Lubomir Visnovsky returned to his native Slovakia Tuesday because of the death of a close friend's son. The Islanders defenseman missed Tuesday night's game, will miss Thursday night's visit from the Rangers and might not be back before Saturday's game with the Caps.

According to reports out of Bratislava, Visnovsky's close friend lost his 13-year-old son in a helicopter crash over the weekend. The two families are extremely tight-knit.

Visnovsky had been one of the best Isles defensemen of late, with a goal, five assists and a plus-1 rating in 12 games. But it was those first 10 games he missed that were also noteworthy, given his departure this week.

He was suspended for refusing to report to the Islanders once the lockout ended.

Radek Martinek was back in the lineup Tuesday night in Visnovsky's spot, paired with Thomas Hickey. It was only Martinek's third game of the season despite his being relatively healthy so far.

"It's hard, but what can I do?" Martinek said Tuesday morning. "I feel good. Just be ready for when they need me."

Eric Boulton and Keith Aucoin were the scratches among forwards for the second straight game.

Tavares feeling better

There was almost no chance John Tavares would miss Tuesday night's game, given that he played Sunday while his illness was far worse. He said he was still getting his strength back as of Tuesday, however.

"Friday was a tough day, but I'm definitely feeling much better," he said. "The last couple days, the medical staff has given me good direction on what to do and what to eat to get my energy up."

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