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Second Round

Islanders expect to be sharper, better in Game 2 against Hurricanes

Believe rust is gone after extended layoff between series, loss in opener

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders believe they have another level, another gear they need to find when they play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Carolina Hurricanes at Barclays Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"We had an opportunity last night maybe in a game where we weren't maybe our best," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "We weren't bad, but we weren't our absolute best. We could have won the game just as easy as them."


[RELATED: Hurricanes downplay obstacles before Game 2 against Islanders | Complete Islanders vs. Hurricanes series coverage]


Forward Jordan Eberle referred to Game 2 as "do-or-die," naturally not wanting to fall behind two games with the series shifting to Carolina for Games 3 and 4, where the Hurricanes are 3-0 during the postseason. 

But Trotz wasn't about to go there, especially after Carolina lost the first two in the opening round against the Washington Capitals before rallying to win the series in seven games.

"If that were the case, then it would be the best out of two," Trotz said. "That's not the case. It's a race to four." 

The Islanders certainly had their chances in Game 1, their first since completing a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 16, only to be denied time and time again by Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, who rode some momentum after making huge saves against forwards Valtteri Filppula and Josh Bailey in the first period. They know the goals will come if they continue to generate quality opportunities.

"We had some good looks last night, some Grade A chances, and he just shut the door," center Mathew Barzal said. "That happens. They ended up getting a lucky bounce there in overtime. 

"But they could have had some goals too. It really could have been 3-3, 4-3. Two good goalies last night battling it out. We've just got to find a way to get a little more on Mrazek."

Video: Breaking down Lehner's performance in Game 1 OT loss

After their first loss of these playoffs, the Islanders returned to their hotel -- they are not sleeping in their own beds at home after playing their first-round home games at Nassau Coliseum -- and did some soul searching, knowing they have more to give in Game 2. 

That little extra they're seeking, they believe, will come more from their minds than their legs.

"We looked at ourselves in the mirror a little bit," forward and captain Anders Lee said. "We weren't at the level we needed to be at. We have to be able to bring that more tomorrow, just be sharper all around, more committed. All those little things that we showed in the first four games of the postseason.

"If you play the right way, you do all the things right, you do your best to have a good hockey game, you might get the result that you want but at least you can walk away knowing you left it all out there and did your best. We give our best every night; that's not necessarily what I mean by that, but from top to bottom, mentally, physically, I think all of us can agree that we just weren't at the spot we needed to be in."

Trotz isn't one to make excuses, but now that the long layoff is behind them and the Islanders have finally returned to action, he's optimistic things will turn around quickly.

"We're coming into this series 10 [days] removed from highly competitive games," Trotz said. "Physically, we're fine. We've got to get back to that mental state that they're in. It takes some time; it might take a period, it might take a couple of periods or a game, and then you get to that state where you're fully invested. 

"It's not necessarily a physical rust; it's sometimes a mental rust. You double clutch, you take a look, that extra second that you didn't take maybe a little earlier. Those go away and you get better. I'm confident we'll be better in the series." 

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