The New York Islanders suffered their first loss of the 2019 playoffs on Friday, falling 1-0 in overtime to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of their second round series.
Jordan Staal scored the OT winner at 4:04 of the extra frame, banking in a sharp angled shot off Robin Lehner (31 saves) after a carom off the end boards. Staal scored the game-winning tally, but Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek was the difference in Game 1, stopping all 31 Islanders shots for his second shutout of the playoffs.
"It's not the result we wanted. It's small margins here in the playoffs. I thought we played a good game. They did too," Lehner said. "As I said before the series, it's going to be a tight series."
The result wasn't what the Islanders wanted, but they were relatively happy with their process on Friday night. The 10-day layoff was not an issue for the Islanders on Friday, who started the game by banging bodies and riling up an orange-tinted Barclays Center. They had the better of the even strength chances, got another solid night out of Lehner and went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Video: NYI Recap: Islanders shut out by Hurricanes in Game 1
While there were positives, they couldn't solve Mrazek, who was superb for the Hurricanes from wire-to-wire.
The Canes' goalie robbed Josh Bailey on a first-period breakaway, blockered away a centering feed on Valtteri Filppula and somehow managed to keep some goalmouth scrambles out in the second period. The one puck that did elude Mrazek - a Mathew Barzal rebound at 17:07 of the second - was called back due to an Anders Lee goalie interference call.
"He's a good goaltender and carried them down the stretch through the season and the Washington series," Matt Martin said of Mrazek. "We have to try to get in front of him, take away his confidence because he's not easy to beat if he can see it."
Video: CAR@NYI, Gm1: Lehner shuts the door on McKegg
Once in overtime, it was anybody's game. The Isles survived an odd-man rush from the Hurricanes, but turned the puck over at the Canes' blue line after a missed drop pass. Carolina went down the other way and Nino Niederreiter's shot off the end boards caromed out to Staal, who banked in the winning goal.
"Anything can happen in OT," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We were on a rush and had a fourth guy coming in, but he wasn't fully committed to getting in there. We talked putting pucks to the net, but we got a little cute and it came back the other way."
"Throw pucks to the net in overtime and good things can happen," Trotz added.
The loss puts the Isles in unfamiliar territory, but there was no panic in the room after Friday's defeat. The same Isles who didn't get too high after a four-game sweep, were hardly hanging their heads after a 1-0 loss.
Video: CAR 1 vs. NYI 0 (OT): Barry Trotz
"Obviously, you don't want to lose, but we're not going to win every game," Lehner said. "We just got to bounce back. It's a big game here on Sunday."
Trotz didn't overreact either, saying he'd maybe consider "subtle changes" to lines for Game 2.
"It's Game 1, they didn't win the series," Trotz said. "We lost a game, but we have to respond right back."
The Islanders and Hurricanes reconvene for Game 2 on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.