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5 Keys: Penguins at Islanders, Game 2

Pittsburgh aims to dictate tempo; New York tries to keep lid on Crosby line

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor



New York leads best-of-7 series 1-0

The New York Islanders will try to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference First Round when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 at Nassau Coliseum on Friday.


[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Penguins series coverage]


Teams that win the first two games of a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series own an all-time series record of 318-50 (86.4 percent) and are 241-30 (88.9 percent) when those victories come at home.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


1. Keep lid on Sid

The Islanders managed to keep Penguins center Sidney Crosby in check during their 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 on Wednesday, largely due to the work by the forward line of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck and the defense pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. Crosby did not have a point and had two shots on goal.

"We're seeing a lot of him," Pulock said. "I think it's important that we did a good job in that area. Obviously it's a good line, so you have to play hard, you've got to play quick and you've got to make plays quick or they're going to be all over you. It's going to be important to continue to do that."


2. Take Islanders off their game

The second period of Game 1 was arguably the Penguins' best; they were able to create more of an up-and-down style, one the Islanders haven't been accustomed to playing this season. Center Evgeni Malkin scored the only goal and Pittsburgh outshot New York 13-10.

It bodes well for the Penguins if they're able to dictate the tempo on a more consistent basis in Game 2.

"We certainly had a lot of momentum in the second period," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We had a lot of real high-quality, Grade A chances that didn't go in the net for us. Certainly, that was a particular part of the game where I thought we had momentum.

"But playoff games, momentum's going to go both ways. I think that's the reality of playoff hockey. Both teams on the ice are good teams; that's why they're still here. We've just got to make sure when we don't have momentum, we've got to try to minimize it and get it back as quickly as we can. When we have it, we've got to try to continue to keep it. I think that's a big part of it."

Video: PIT@NYI, Gm1: Malkin's shot deflects in for PPG


3. Power play

Special teams will obviously play a crucial role in this series, and the power play has been something of an Achilles heel for New York, which was 29th in the NHL during the regular season (14.5 percent). But center Brock Nelson may have provided a boost when he scored in the first period Wednesday.

"The power play obviously wasn't great for us this season," right wing Jordan Eberle said. "It was a bit of a weak spot. Anytime you get into the playoffs, it's almost like a clean slate; you're back to zero percent. If we want to have success throughout the playoffs where it's usually a tight game 5-on-5, there's not a lot of chances, you have to be able to create on the power play."


4. Don't panic

The Penguins may trail in the series, but have historically bounced back under Sullivan after a loss; since he became coach on Dec. 12, 2015, they are 17-5 in the next playoff game after a defeat.

"It's about the players," Sullivan said. "The players do a great job responding. This is a competitive group and they've been through a lot together and we have good leadership. They always seem to respond the right way to any sort of adversity that comes our way."


5. Bring the noise

There was a wild atmosphere for the first Game 1 of a playoff series at the Coliseum since 1988. It should be similar, if not louder, with the Islanders having a chance to take a 2-0 series lead.

"That's what makes hockey fun," Eberle said. "You get a chance to play in front of a crowd in a big game and the crowd is into it, it energizes us. You feel like you can skate 100 miles an hour.

"Sometimes you have to temper your emotions a little bit. You get too high, and maybe you're burning energy in warmups when you may not need to. But throughout the game, the crowd, when they're cheering and we're doing well, it keeps us going. When things are going bad, they have the power to kind of lift us up. I expect it will be the same."


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Jared McCann -- Evgeni Malkin -- Patric Hornqvist

Dominik Simon -- Nick Bjugstad -- Phil Kessel

Zach Aston-Reese -- Matt Cullen -- Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Olli Maatta -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Erik Gudbranson

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Jack Johnson, Zach Trotman, Teddy Blueger

Injured: Chad Ruhwedel (upper body)


Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- Mathew Barzal -- Jordan Eberle

Josh Bailey -- Brock Nelson -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Anthony Beauvillier -- Valtteri Filppula -- Leo Komarov

Matt Martin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech -- Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews -- Scott Mayfield

Robin Lehner

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Thomas Hickey, Luca Sbisa, Dennis Seidenberg, Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston

Injured: None


Status report

Gudbranson, who went hard into the boards in the third period and briefly left Game 1, skated in the morning and will be a game-time decision. … Beauvillier, who was given a maintenance day Thursday, participated in an optional morning skate and is "probable," according to coach Barry Trotz.


LISTEN: NHL Fantasy on Ice: Game 1 reaction & Game 2 previews

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