The New York Islanders showed plenty of resolve on Wednesday night, a team that continually managed to battle back in a hotly contested Game 3 in Carolina.
There will need to be more of it come Friday in Game 4. With a better outcome obviously needed to keep the series alive.
The Isles’ season is on the brink after a 5-2 Game 3 loss to the Hurricanes and now find themselves one defeat away from having their magical season come to an end.
Now down 3-0 in their second-round series, the Islanders must show the same character they showed throughout this season if they hope to get back into the series.
Two empty-net goals inside the game’s final minute skewed the boxscore in a game where the Islanders scrapped and clawed to desperately attempt to turn around this series. While the loss was discouraging, the Islanders didn’t lose because of a lack of intensity or fight.
The puck simply didn’t bounce their way against a very hot Hurricanes team and “puck luck” has all but abandoned the Isles through the first three games of this series.
If you’re looking for a silver lining from the third loss in this playoff series, it is that the Islanders kept bouncing back.
And in what is now a do-or-die situation, that is a glimmer of hope heading into Game 4 Friday night.
Twice the Islanders went down in the first two periods of Game 3, only to answer both times with the equalizing goal. But when Justin Williams scored at 10:15 in the third period, it was simply too much for the Islanders to overcome.
They never stopped getting up, even when they kept getting knocked down. And if the Islanders are going to do the improbable, the response from them has to be with the same fortitude they showed all throughout Game 3.
The Islanders showed resilience and a strong backbone after going down in the first period off a Teuvo Teravainen goal. Twice in the game’s opening two periods, the Islanders went down. Either goal could have sunk them, either goal could have broken their spirits or sealed their collective playoff fate.
But once in the first period when Devon Toews fired one in on the power play and again in the second period when Josh Bailey rifled his fourth goal of the playoffs off a Hurricanes turnover, the Islanders responded. They dug down, they found their resolve and they never hung their heads.
It shouldn’t be a surprise.
This was a team that wasn’t supposed to be here, and yet they defied the narrative, spelled out about them to piece together a tremendous season.
National publications in preseason pegged the Islanders as a last-place team not just in the Metropolitan Division, but in the Eastern Conference. Even the addition of Barry Trotz this offseason, a gift from the hockey gods for this franchise, wasn’t going to be enough supposedly to get this team out of what was being tabbed as a rebuilding year.
Yet somehow, Trotz forged a winning mentality on a team of young players and veteran castoffs. Turning around this series may be an uphill battle, but for a team that wasn’t supposed to even be in playoff contention, it won’t be for a lack of effort.
The Islanders showed plenty in Game 3 to make a Hurricanes win on Friday night anything but a foregone conclusion. The message from Trotz this series and through the entirety of the postseason has been to take this one game at a time. They will make it tough on Carolina with backs are against the wall.
With the same fight and effort in Game 4, the Islanders will at least go down swinging. They will take it one game at a time, but they will continue to fight along the way.
[Watch Game 4 Postgame Coverage Friday on MSG Networks & MSG GO.]