In Game 2, the New York Islanders flew around the ice for two periods, made plays and looked like the more dominant team.
Outside of a little over a minute span at the start of the third period, the Islanders were far and away the better team, and fully deserved to even the series. But because of two breakdowns in the opening 1:05 of the third, they are now looking at an 0-2 deficit in the series following a 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes Sunday.
It is perhaps unfair, but so goes playoff hockey. A first period goal by Mathew Barzal, his first of the postseason, seemed like it was going to point the Islanders towards evening the series, following a tough 1-0 overtime loss on Friday in Game 1. But two quick mistakes in the third proved otherwise.
If the Isles want to have any hope of getting back into the series, then Game 3 must see them return to being a team that limits mistakes and makes big plays in the clutch.
Barry Trotz even said he didn’t think Carolina had many other opportunities Sunday afternoon. “I thought we played a pretty complete game,” the coach reflected after the loss.
“Even when they scored the two quick goals, our bench was on, they were fine,” Trotz continued. “I had a good feeling on our bench, there was no reason to call a timeout or anything like that. We know things are going to happen. Let’s respond to it. We did.”
Unlike Game 1 where the they were uncharacteristically sloppy, especially coming off a dominant sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders rebounded early in Game 2. Signs of rust from the 10-day layoff between the Penguins series and Friday night’s Game 1 were gone and New York was clearly the better team.
They held the advantage in shots, limiting the Hurricanes to just three in the first period. The Islanders also held the edge in faceoffs, hits and blocks. It was a game where they looked and played like the team that had dispatched the Penguins in four games.
It wasn’t perfect. As they sought an equalizer in the third period they began to push, but they gave away the puck easily, and clanged the iron several times, coming inches away from the tying goal.
Despite a game where they controlled the ice, two breakdowns, each in big moments at the start of the third period, now leave the Islanders in a precarious spot. A team that won three of their four regular season meetings this year with Carolina has lost the home ice advantage and now faces a undesirable situation in Game 3.
“Your initial emotion after a game when you feel you’ve played well enough to win and you don’t, I think there’s some frustration for a few minutes,” Trotz said.
“I think confidence grows from it. We’re fine. We’ll play our game. You don’t win the series in two games. We’ve been resilient all year, we’ve been good all year on the road. We’ll go in there, play our best and see if we can get the results that we need.”