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Second Round

Islanders not worried, shifting focus to Game 2

Felt they played well in series opener despite overtime loss to Hurricanes

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- Robin Lehner sat in his stall at Barclays Center on Friday after the New York Islanders' first loss in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the type of composure required to sustain success at this time of year.  

He had no reason to be rattled, not after he nearly got enough of Jordan Staal's shot from the bottom of the right circle that went off his left skate blade into the net at 4:04 of overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 1-0 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. 

The Islanders knew they were good enough to win this series opener, their first game in 10 days after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. Lehner knew he was good enough, too. He made 31 saves, allowing one goal for his fourth consecutive game, but was outdueled by Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, who made 31 saves for his fifth playoff shutout in 19 games.

 

[RELATED: Hurricanes defeat Islanders in OT | Complete series coverage]

 

That's why there was no panic in Lehner's voice, or anyone else's in the Islanders locker room for that matter, after their first loss of the postseason. 

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at New York on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"I think we played well," Lehner said. "There's small details obviously we can work on. Obviously, we want to score a little bit more, I think we can get a little more traffic in front of the net, and just keep shooting. I think we tried to complicate things a little bit, overpass it sometimes, but it's the first game back.

"I think we played well for the first game back after 10 days, I really do. I was happy with the energy we brought, and I thought we played with pretty good detail. It's a 0-1 loss in overtime, it happens. We've just got to get a good night's sleep and a have nice day tomorrow and come win on Sunday."

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm1: Lehner shuts the door on McKegg

Rust was supposed to be a factor for the Islanders, who hadn't played since a 3-1 win in Game 4 of the first round at Pittsburgh on April 16. It took a few shifts to shake it off, but once they did, they played the style that has made them so effective over the course of the season. 

But Mrazek had no interest in allowing New York its fifth straight win in the playoffs, which he made clear 6:20 into the first period when he robbed Islanders center Valtteri Filppula on a one-timer from between the circles, followed by a glove save against Josh Bailey on a breakaway at 13:58.

The only shot to get past Mrazek was off the stick of Mathew Barzal on a rebound off the end boards at 17:07 of the second period, but it was disallowed for goalie interference against Islanders forward Anders Lee that resulted in a penalty.

"I don't think I have to change a whole lot," said Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award before the game, given annually to the coach voted as the best in the NHL. "If we had converted on some of our chances early, maybe it might be a different story. But their goaltender played well, our goaltender played well as well."

Lehner, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as one of the League's top goalies, certainly did his part to keep scoreless, especially at 9:58 of the second period when he stretched his left pad across the crease to deny Hurricanes center Greg McKegg after he was sent in alone by Patrick Brown.

In the end, it took a fortuitous bounce after Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter's shot from the left circle went wide off the end boards and bounced to Staal on the other side, where he had just enough time to get off a shot before Islanders defenseman Devon Toews could attempt to knock it away.

Video: Breaking down Lehner's performance in overtime loss

"Mrazek played well; he made some big saves in the beginning of the game," Lehner said. "I felt like I made some big saves in the middle of the game and some in the third, but it was hard game, back and forth. I thought it was a good defensive game for both teams, but obviously it's a 1-0 loss in OT. It could have gone anyone's way there. We've just got to bounce back and get the next one."

The Islanders will practice here Saturday in preparation for Sunday's matinee. Trotz said there's a chance he will tinker with his lines, but the focus will likely be on the power play, which went 0-for-4, including one with 6:09 left in the third period that didn't result in a shot on goal.

Still, it's one loss. They see no reason for panic.

"I just think we go about our business here and take care of ourselves tonight, get ready for practice and meetings tomorrow," Islanders forward Matt Martin said. "There's some areas we can obviously clean up, some things I'm sure that they're doing that the coaches are going to have on video that maybe we can exploit in the D-zone that we need to take care of.

"But overall, we can't hang our heads. It's a race to four. Obviously, it's our first loss of the postseason, but we've just got to worry about the next one, get a win and then worry about the next one after that. We feel pretty good about the way we played."

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