At times, in the first four games of their series with the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Islanders have played like the better team. That was certainly the case in the late stages of Game 3 and the opening minutes of Game 4. And, if not for a missed high-stick call in the overtime period of Game 2, who’s to say this series wouldn’t be tied at two games apiece?
However, there are other moments when the Islanders have looked outclassed. It’s because of those moments that they’re are now staring down the barrel of elimination, trailing 3-0.
Now, none of those moments are important. In Game 5, the only moment that matters to the Islanders is the one in front of them.
“Being in a spot where we’re at, down three-one, our sole focus is on the next game,” said Brock Nelson. “We need to come out with desperation at an all-time high. Your backs against the wall, so we have to come out and that start, worry about the first period and go from there and know that on the backside we have to win the game.”
Every game the Islanders have played since the middle of February has essentially been a must-win while competing for a Wildcard spot that they didn’t clinch until the final day of the regular season. It’s a precarious position for sure, but one they’re more than used to.
“We’ve been here before, on multiple occasions down the stretch this year and in the past,” said Ryan Pulock. “I think there’s just got to be one focus. That’s all that we can really control right now.”
Right now, the attitude is business as usual. Per multiple reports, Lambert is rolling out the same lineup tonight as he has all series long. For better or worse, it’s the lineup that got the Islanders to this point.
Keys To The Game:
Recognize The Opponent:
As soon as Zach Parise was called for goaltender interference 2:41 into Game 4, the Islanders stopped focusing on beating the Hurricanes and shifted their aggression to the referees. The Islanders cannot afford to lose their focus tonight because Carolina has capitlized on nearly every chance the Islanders have given them.
“We got to be more disciplined,” said Sebastian Aho. “We can’t take as many penalties as we did, and we just got to try to not focus on the ref. I feel like we were maybe a little bit too focused on being pissed off at them [in Game 3]. We just got to focus on ourselves and play our game.”
The team that has scored first has won each game thus far. In hostile territory, an opening goal for the Hurricanes could spell doom for the Islanders.
Top Guys Have To Play Like Top Guys:
Lou Lamoriello made the move to acquire Bo Horvat at the trade deadline to boost the Islanders’ offense. That seemed to work to start, but since Mat Barzal went down with a lower-body injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season, Horvat has been lost in space. Even with Barzal making a return to the lineup in Game 1, he and Horvat have combined for just two points. Top guys show up in big moments and there aren’t many bigger moments than this.
How To Watch:
Puck drop for Game 5 is set for a little after 7 p.m. The game can be seen on MSG Network and will air nationally on ESPN. 88.7 FM WRHU and 98.7 FM ESPN will carry the radio broadcast.