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First Round

Islanders ride home-ice edge to add Game 2 win against Penguins

Leave friendly Coliseum for Pittsburgh holding series lead

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Barry Trotz implored the New York Islanders fans to be even louder for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum on Friday.

And with their help, the Islanders are halfway to advancing to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 3-1 win.

The best-of-7 series moves to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for Game 3 on Sunday (noon ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), where Penguins fans will attempt to match those decibel levels.


[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Penguins series coverage]


"They were good; they get an A-plus from me tonight," Trotz said of the fans, many of whom stayed after the final buzzer. "They were outstanding. Keep it up. I can hear you right now. Fantastic. That's what playoffs are about. That's what I remember about this building; it's a hard place to come in, the fans are fabulous, they're passionate and pushing you along."

They did everything they could to push the Islanders along seven minutes into the third period, when they were shown a video of the penalty-shot goal Shawn Bates scored in Game 4 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a first-round series 17 years earlier.

Bates was in the building Friday, waving an orange towel seconds after they showed his goal on the scoreboard.

The Islanders got a pretty good idea of what the building felt like in 2002 when Jordan Eberle's second goal of the series gave New York a 2-1 lead with 12:06 remaining in the third period.

Video: PIT@NYI, Gm2: Eberle beats Murray with backhand

"It's special. It's great to have that many people behind you," said Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who followed his overtime goal in Game 1 with one on the power play to make it 3-1 with 8:22 left. "It's definitely a feeling unmatched, for sure."

The first Islanders fan showed up in the Coliseum parking lot at 9:30 a.m., 10 hours before face-off. The crowd was quieted -- briefly -- when Erik Gudbranson's shot from the point gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 10:36 of the second period.

Anthony Beauvillier tied the game 1-1 less than three minutes later. The sound that followed reminded Trotz of coaching against the Islanders with the Washington Capitals during the 2015 playoffs.

Video: PIT@NYI, Gm2: Beauvillier taps home rebound on rush

"When we got that first goal, I was saying to myself, 'We're going to be fine. If this goes three or four periods longer than it has to, we'll be fine,'" Trotz said. "I'm sure that they would keep it up. They gave us a real boost. Thank you."

There's a chance this was the last game Islanders fans will see at the Coliseum this season, if Games 5 and 7 become unnecessary. Most of them probably aren't expecting a sweep, any remaining home games New York plays after the first round will be at Barclays Center.

But the players said they aren't thinking about that. They will certainly be reminded by Trotz how the Capitals last season lost the first two games of the first round to the Columbus Blue Jackets, only to rally with four straight wins, and, ultimately, win the Stanley Cup.

Video: PIT@NYI, Gm2: Bailey doubles the lead with PPG

The home-ice advantage helped New York hold Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby without a point and to three shots on goal in the two games.

"It's fun to play in this atmosphere," said Islanders center Casey Cizikas, who was matched up against Crosby for much of these first two games. "Everyone thrives off it, everyone builds off of it and it's fun hockey.

"Our [defensemen] are doing an unbelievable job, getting back to pucks and moving it to our forwards. They're getting the puck up quick and we're getting it in their zone and playing below their goal line. That's where we play our best hockey. We're going to continue trying to do that, but they have a lot of veterans in that room that have been in big games, so we've got to continue doing what we do best and continue playing hard."

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