As daunting as the 8-2 beatdown they took from the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 Monday night was, the Islanders aren’t letting one loss in the Eastern Conference finals rattle them.
This is the first time since the playoffs began in August that the Islanders are trailing in a series, but by focusing on the fact that a win in Game 2 Wednesday night would even the series 1-1, the Islanders are hoping they can make Monday’s debacle a distant memory.
“Personally, I liked our attitude after the game last night,” Mathew Barzal said on a Zoom call Tuesday afternoon. “We knew it wasn’t acceptable, but at the same time, we know it’s a seven-game series and it’s the first to four.
“We get [Wednesday’s] game and it’s a completely different series. That was kind of our immediate reaction.”
That may be easier said than done, especially the way in which the Islanders lost Game 1. After giving up seven total goals in the four games to the Panthers in the qualifying round, the Islanders allowed eight goals in five games to the Capitals in the first round.
Monday night, the Islanders were lit up for eight goals in 55 minutes against Tampa Bay.
Additionally, the Islanders’ penalty kill was coming off a perfect 13-for-13 performance against the Flyers in the second round. The Lightning put a quick end to that, going 3-for-6 on the man-advantage in Game 1 after the Islanders had gone eight straight games without allowing a power-play goal.
“That was just an unfortunate performance by our team and being down 1-0 obviously isn’t ideal,” Barzal said. “But we don’t feel like we’re behind the eight ball just yet.”
Barry Trotz said it was difficult to analyze the Islanders individually and as a team following the blowout loss, noting that it was a “strange game.” He acknowledged that the team’s fatigue could have stemmed from the one-day turnaround from Game 7 against the Flyers in Toronto to Game 1 versus the Lightning in Edmonton after a full day of traveling across Canada.
But Trotz said he expects the Islanders to have a strong response in Game 2, pointing to the team’s resiliency all postseason but also history as well.
“Someone gave me a stat today, when the Islanders won their first Cup they did lose a game. It was I think Game 2, they gave up eight goals and they came back and beat the Flyers for their first Cup,” he said.
The Lightning’s eight goals Monday night tied two other instances for the most the Islanders ever have allowed in a playoff game. The first was in Game 2 of the 1975 preliminary round against the Rangers, in which the Islanders won the series 2-1 before losing in the semifinals to the Flyers in seven games.
The most recent was in Game 2 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals against the Flyers. After the Islanders had taken a 1-0 series lead in overtime in Game 1, Philadelphia struck back with an 8-3 rout before the Islanders won three of the next four to capture the franchise’s first Cup.
That’s not a bad historical trend to draw from.
“The road [to the Stanley Cup] is not always the same, it is sort of structured with all these twists and turns and adversities and all that,” Trotz said. “You never know how it changes.”