The Islanders headed to Tampa Bay Wednesday to start a two-game road trip in Florida. Some payback is in order against the Lightning, which beat the Islanders, 6-1, earlier this month in Brooklyn. The loss came amid a chorus of boos and some chants for coach Jack Capuano to be fired.
Albeit early in the season, it was a watershed moment for a struggling team. “Yeah, definitely, that last one was a tough one for us,’’ Josh Bailey said on Wednesday after a morning practice at Northwell Health Ice Center. “Try and get some redemption here. Really, just come out with a good effort and try and get the result we’re looking for.”
The Islanders trailed 3-0 early against Tampa Bay and goalie Thomas Greiss was pulled for Jaroslav Halak, who gave up three more goals. Greiss hasn’t played since and J-F Berube hasn’t played at all. Capuano wants to see better play and fewer penalties. “Discipline-wise, yes,’’ the coach said. “They’re a good hockey team. They have good special teams, so we’ve got to try to play five-on-five as much as we can.’’
The Lightning (7-5-1) has become something of a nemesis. After the Islanders beat the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Lightning defeated the Islanders in five games. “I think any time you play a team in the postseason it adds a little extra to the matchups going forward,’’ Bailey said. “It’s obviously a new year. Both teams have some new players, but I think the feeling from last year still exists, for sure.’’
John Tavares added, “I think certainly it’s pretty fresh in our minds, obviously, the results from last year. We’re just looking to build up our game from Monday [a 4-2 victory over the Canucks]. We’ve got to find a way to kind of gain some momentum here and string a few together. Obviously, some very good opponents,’’ referring to the Lightning and Florida Panthers. “I think they’re just a tough test.’’
Despite being 0-3 on the road, Tavares said the team is looking forward to a different routine with five of the next seven games away from Barclays Center.
“A lot of us have been through it before,’’ Tavares said of the road schedule. “It’s a lot of hockey day after day and you just try to prepare yourself mentally and physically to handle it. That’s the way it’s been drawn up for us. I think just look forward to it.’’
Notes & quotes: Mathew Barzal was returned to Seattle of the WHL. The 19-year-old center who was selected 16th overall by the Islanders in the 2015 draft played in two games. “I just talked to him for a minute. I know he took it pretty hard,’’ Tavares said. “I think he’s a pretty proud and motivated kid and I think that’s what’s going to make him a really good hockey player. He’s very talented but brings very good confidence . . . Obviously young guys need to play. He was great the way he approached the game and being around the guys.’’