The Islanders leave the ice after their 2-1 overtime loss...

The Islanders leave the ice after their 2-1 overtime loss to the Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on Thursday in Edmonton, Alberta. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

The Islanders enter this season’s playoffs still motivated by last season’s run to the Eastern Conference finals.

Mathew Barzal said after Monday’s season finale in Boston that, "last year was heartbreaking so it’s a hungry group." The Islanders face the Penguins in the first round after being eliminated in six games by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning last season.

"It gives you a taste of how hard it can be; it gives you a taste of how fun it can be," Cal Clutterbuck said after Wednesday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. "When you come close like that, it changes your perception of the playoffs and it changes your perception of how hard it’s going to be.

"That creates a fire in guys, when you know you’ve got the team to do it and all you’ve got to do is go out there and do it and give yourself a chance," Clutterbuck added. "We’ve all been on teams in the past where I think, deep down, you know you don’t really have what it takes. But it hasn’t been that way here and I think that’s why we’re excited."

More fans

The Penguins announced on Wednesday that capacity at PPG Paints Arena will be expanded to 50% starting on Monday. Full capacity at the Pittsburgh building is slightly more than 18,000.

Nassau Coliseum will also be able to host at approximately 50% of capacity — about 6,800 — when the playoffs begin.

Tickets for the vaccinated sections will go on sale Thursday. Seats in the non-vaccinated sections will go on sale Friday.

"As many people as you can get in there is better," Clutterbuck said.

Practice squad

Goalie Ken Appleby, defensemen Samuel Bolduc, Grant Hutton and Bode Wilde and Simon Holmstrom, Dmytro Timashov, Otto Koivula, Cole Bardreau and Anatolii Golyshev were brought up from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport to join the team’s practice squad — The Black Aces — in the playoffs.

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