NHL

New York Islanders ready to pull out all the stops in first elimination game

05/03/2019
Matt Di Giacomo

With their backs against the wall, the New York Islanders are ready to try anything that will let them back into their second-round series.

Matt Di Giacomo

There’s not much else the New York Islanders can do aside from leaving everything on the ice Friday night.

Coming off of a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders had a 10-day break between series after the Carolina Hurricanes dragged the Washington Capitals to a decisive Game 7.

Given the three-game sample this series, a lot of the Isles’ focus was lost during the break (maybe a Columbus-style scrimmage will help next time). Carolina simply had more desperation than the Islanders when it mattered most. The Stanley Cup Playoffs is a game of centimeters the Islanders have yet to win in round 2.

To call the first two games close is a gross understatement, Game 1 saw a lone goal from Jordan Staal in overtime and 48 seconds in the third period of Game 2 buried the Islanders early. The Islanders blinked first — three times — and now find themselves in the same place Pittsburgh was in their first-round series.

Everyone on the team knows the situation they put themselves in, and the improbable odds that face them.

Then again, for the 2018-19 New York Islanders, overcoming the odds isn’t anything new.

Barry Trotz considers Friday’s contest a “Game 7,” the first of four if the Islanders hope to get that far.

The margin for error is officially gone, to begin the conversation of coming back the Islanders are going to need a picture-perfect Game 4.

Changes

For starters, Michael Dal Colle should be expected to make his NHL post-season debut.

The currently assembled lineup combined for a total of three goals in three games after outscoring the Penguins by a combined 14-6 in the first round. It’s safe to assume at this point that someone will sit in favor of the 22-year-old first-round draft pick.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem any recalls are imminent after the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ season ended, so Dal Colle’s inclusion is a must.

New York Islanders

Defensively, there isn’t much the Islanders can or should change. For as stingy the Hurricanes have been in three games, the Islanders successfully held them to three goals in the first two games of the series after being overpowered in Game 3.

That is, aside from in the net. Thomas Greiss has an opportunity to enter a dead series and breathe life into his team.

Not to discredit the performances Robin Lehner put forward thus far, but it’s worth noting he is now 0-7 lifetime against Carolina. This season, Greiss proved himself to be the Hurricanes’ kryptonite with a 3-1 record and a combined .937 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average.

The personal matchup is undeniable and could serve as an Islanders X-factor if the offense successfully comes to life for the remainder of the series.

Before anyone gets any ideas of completing a full reverse sweep (there’s about a 1.9 percent chance between NHL lifetime 0-3 series deficits) Game 4 has to be played and decided.

In the history of the NHL, there were 190 instances where teams were down 0-3. Four of them completed the comeback, and two of those teams were able to do it within the last 10 years.

Each potential win increases the intensity on the opposition and will demand more from the Islanders than they’ve ever been asked for.

Facing elimination, there’s one final chance for the Isles to find the desperation they had a stronghold on in the first round.

What lies ahead for them is wholly unknown, they can continue as they did in Game 3 and forego the series, or stun the league yet again and stave off elimination for as long as possible.

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