Orange towels and blue jerseys will be the order of the day Sunday. After wading through a sea of red in Washington for Games 1 and 2, the Islanders are eagerly anticipating some home cooking at Nassau Coliseum for Sunday's Game 3 matinee in the first-round series against the Capitals, which is tied 1-1.
"I think we know what it's been like here all year. It's certainly been very special," John Tavares said after the Isles practiced at the Coliseum Saturday. "It's going to be great, we want to use it to our advantage, but at the same time, we've got to stay composed, stay disciplined, like we have been. And control our emotions. There's a lot of ups and downs in the game, and we got to make sure we play hard and do the right thing from start to finish."
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After doing just that in their dominant 4-1 win in Game 1, the Islanders didn't react well to the Capitals' surge from the outset of Game 2. Even though they led 2-0 and 3-1, the Islanders were too passive Friday night, allowing the Caps to gain the offensive zone and work the puck around with ease. Washington had 82 shot attempts to 51 for the Islanders.
The Isles led the NHL with 4,090 shot attempts this season, making Friday night's numbers frustrating. Doubly so when you factor in that Caps rookie goalie Philipp Grubauer made his playoff debut in place of an ill Braden Holtby.
"I just thought for whatever reason . . . that we're a little too passive," Jack Capuano said. "As I told our guys, our identity hasn't been that all year. We're not a team that plays safe or sits back. We're a team that obviously wants to play on our toes. We want to dictate the pace."
That shouldn't be difficult with another sellout crowd shaking the dust from all corners of the old building Sunday.
Two springs ago, the Islanders returned home from Pittsburgh in a 1-1 series for a Sunday noon start in Game 3. That was the first home playoff game for the Islanders in six years. The building was vibrating from warm-ups on; it shook mightily when Matt Moulson and Casey Cizikas scored in the first 5:41 of that game.
The Isles lost that wild one in overtime, but the memories of how loud the Coliseum can be were planted not just in the young Islanders players' minds but in those of the opposition.
It's come back this regular season, with 27 sellouts among the 41 home dates and the full-throated "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chants echoing around as the Islanders posted a 25-14-2 home record, their best since 2003-04.
"We fed off this crowd all year," Capuano said. "I think our home record has improved, we've done a good job. Like I said, we could have won a few more games here, but it's a big reason why we had the home record that we have.
"It's going to be an exciting time. As I told them, we got a different group than we had in the Pittsburgh series. We're a little bit more mature, even though we have some young players. We have a little swagger and confidence in certain guys."
Notes & quotes: Holtby, who practiced fully Saturday, was confident that he will be ready to play Game 3. "Yeah, I don't think there will be any questions," he told reporters after the Caps practiced at the Coliseum. Holtby played 73 of the Caps' 82 regular-season games, most in the NHL . . . Travis Hamonic, nine days removed from his suspected left knee injury, did not practice for the Islanders . . . Capuano hinted at lineup changes after Game 2 but had the same lines and defense pairs for practice. "That's because you guys [the media] were here," he joked.