ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Islanders were able to hit the reset button on Wednesday night, erasing the memories of a shaky finish to their regular season with a complete effort in their Game 1 win over the Capitals.
Time to hit it again heading into Game 2.
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"It doesn't mean anything to win one game. We can't get too carried away," said Jaroslav Halak, who did some resetting of his own after a puck-handling misplay led to the Capitals' lone goal with 56.3 seconds left in the first period. He was superb after that, totaling 24 saves.
There was plenty to feel good about in Game 1, from Brock Nelson's goal 6:06 into the game that left Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby a bit off his game to Halak's eight saves on Alex Ovechkin to Ryan Strome's game-winner early in the second period. John Tavares won an offensive-zone draw and Strome hopped on to the loose puck, a play both Islanders said Strome called ahead of time.
"I guess when you call a hundred of them, it's good when one goes in," Strome said.
The best aspect of Game 1 that the Islanders can bring into Friday night's Game 2 is that ability to put the end of the regular season behind them. The Isles stumbled to the finish line last week, going 6-8-5 in the final 19 games. That included a 5-4 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets on Saturday in the season finale, which cost the Islanders a chance to have home-ice advantage in this first-round series.
No matter. Just as they did through a 41-20-2 start to the season, the Isles shook off bad games and a small handful of poor moments within the game to come out on top Wednesday night and get home-ice advantage back.
"We played the kind of game we played earlier in the season when we were playing our best," said Matt Martin, who felt no ill effects from the diving shot block he had in the second period to save a sure goal. "It's a new season, the regular season is done and it's time to refocus."
Most of the Islanders' regulars took Thursday to do the same while not participating in an optional practice here at the Naval Academy's McMullen Rink. They know full well that the Capitals will be refocused as well Friday night and willing to put up more of a fight than they did in Game 1, when the Isles took away the neutral zone and turned the Caps' defensemen inside out with turnovers.
"You want to take advantage next game after you win the first one but, at the same time, you have to expect their best effort," Tavares said. "We have to raise our game, raise our intensity, do the things we need to do to get a win tomorrow."
Notes & quotes: Jack Capuano gave no indications as to his Game 2 lineup, but all of Wednesday night's healthy scratches skated Thursday, including Tyler Kennedy and Mikhail Grabovski. Travis Hamonic (undisclosed injury) still was nowhere to be found with the team.