NEWARK — The quirks that have made the Barclays Center infamous are no big deal to Ben Bishop, the goaltender for the Lightning.
That includes the quirkiest quirk of all — that for some fans at one end of the arena he and the goal he is standing in front of are fully or partially invisible.
“It reminds me a lot of the rink in San Antonio that I played in a hundred times when I was in Peoria [with the AHL’s Rivermen],” he said Thursday after practice at the Prudential Center, referring to the AT&T Center.
“They had a big curtain [behind one goal]. Same basic thing.”
So add one more layer to the experience Bishop brings to the task of stopping the Islanders in a second-round playoff series that resumes in Brooklyn with Game 4 Friday.
More important, Bishop and many of his teammates have loads of actual playoff experience, some from multiple Stanley Cup Finals — Valtteri Filppula has been in three — and most at least from last year’s series against the Blackhawks.
“I think after that first seven-game series [against Detroit last year], it felt like you’d seen it all, and I felt comfortable the second [seven-game series] in the conference finals [against the Rangers],” he said.
“This year it’s been the same thing. Going into overtime last game is something we had to deal with a few times last year, so you don’t get too hyped up. You don’t change a thing. We just went in [the locker room] and it was kind of — get back to business, regroup, rehydrate. There was no ‘rah-rah.’ ”
The relaxed approach seemed to work, as the Lightning won, 5-4, in overtime, to take a 2-1 series lead.
One key to the game was Bishop’s performance in a first period the Islanders dominated before settling for a 1-1 lead at the first intermission. Bishop saved 16 of 17 shots in that period.
“We knew they were going to have a push,” he said. “Usually teams get home for the first game of the series and you usually have a little momentum behind them and it’s just something you have to weather. You know it’s going to come and you try to limit it as much as possible, and I think we did a good job of that.”
Bishop said one of the keys to stopping the Islanders is stopping their highly regarded fourth line of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck, who put the Islanders ahead, 4-3, midway through the third period Tuesday.
“They do a great job,” Bishop said. “They can win faceoffs, they’re physical and they all have skill. It’s impressive. They’re kind of called ‘the best fourth line in hockey’ for a reason. You can definitely see that. Whenever you can have a guy like Martin play with your fourth line or your first line, that says a lot. We know they’re a four-line team.”
Still, Job One is stopping John Tavares.
“Absolutely,” Bishop said. “He’s a heck of a player and has a great supporting cast around him with Okposo, Nielsen or Nelson, whoever they put out with him. Okposo is one of the more skilled guys in the NHL, and you put him with a guy like Tavares who can kind of do it all, they’re a scary one-two punch.”
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