WASHINGTON -- The New York Islanders did what they had to do Saturday, when they extended their Eastern Conference First Round series with a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.
Now they must win a Game 7 at Verizon Center on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC) in order to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Home teams are 91-65 in Game 7, but were 1-6 a year ago. Either way, Islanders coach Jack Capuano isn't interested.
"I don't believe in momentum or pressure too much," Capuano said Sunday. "I think that we've got a relentless bunch of guys in here, and I've said that from Day One. We've got a lot of character and leadership. Our guys have done a great job holding each other accountable. For me, we're going into Game 7. If you asked me before the series, we'd take it."
The Islanders managed to win Saturday without three injured defensemen: Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan. Capuano did not have an update on any of them and said he won't put them in a position Monday for further damage.
"Every day that goes by and the treatment that they do and everything that goes into the process, you just can't put a guy into a situation where he can get hurt and we've never done that all year," Capuano said. "We'll know a little bit more [Monday], but I'm not going to do it if a guy's in jeopardy."
Matt Donovan, who was a healthy scratch for the majority of the regular season and played 12 games, and Scott Mayfield, who spent the entire season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, made their playoff debuts Saturday. Griffin Reinhart, who struggled in Game 5, and Ryan Pulock, who has yet to play, were mentioned as possibilities for Game 7.
At forward, Capuano scratched Anders Lee, a rookie who scored 25 goals during the regular season, for Game 6. Tyler Kennedy, Michael Grabner and Eric Boulton were also scratched. Colin McDonald made his series debut and played 9:54.
"We've got some decisions to make. We've got some quality players," Capuano said. "On the back end, Reinhart and Pulock are here and obviously we've got four forwards that are hungry to get in there too. Now it's back in their building, we've got some decisions we need to make. We could back with the same guys, might not. We don't know at this point."
With a depleted blue line, defensemen Nick Leddy (28:59 of ice time) and Johnny Boychuk (27:00) carried a heavy load. They'll be expected to do so again in Game 7 if none of the injured defensemen are able to return.
"It's a good feeling in here, but you have to take that good feeling and bring it into [Monday's] game," Boychuk said. Yesterday doesn't matter now, it's what you're going to do the next game."
Monday will be the first Game 7 for many players on New York's roster, including center John Tavares. The Islanders captain elevated his game Saturday with a goal and an assist to help keep the season alive.
"It's a great opportunity," Tavares said. "You've got to win one hockey game to move on. We're obviously coming off a big win [Saturday] and we want to follow that up and we want to keep playing. We're looking forward to it."