Isles' Game 2 strategy: Don't repeat Game 1
PITTSBURGH - It's a pretty simple fix for the Islanders heading into Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Penguins Friday night.
Don't do anything you did in Game 1.
"Everybody's got to be better from top to bottom," Kyle Okposo said after a short but spirited Islanders practice at CONSOL Energy Center Thursday. "From systems, to the penalty kill, power play -- everything. We know what we have to do. We're down 1-0 in the series. It doesn't matter how we got there."
Unfortunately, there had to be some dissection of Game 1's 5-0 shelling by the Penguins, a playoff opener that seemed to catch the Islanders off-guard.
They had some decent moments in the opening period but quickly unraveled late in the first and early in the second, and the Penguins' attack chased Evgeni Nabokov to the bench at 1:51 of the second.
Jack Capuano had his players doing a battle drill, with both nets at one end of the ice and players going at it in a short-ice contest. There was plenty of hooting and hollering and very little of the air of tightness that seemed to permeate the first 40 minutes of Game 1.
"We just have to be a little more ready," Capuano said. "At times last night, we just didn't look like the same team we've been for the last month and a half. We were watching."
At the same time, Capuano reviewed the game tape and tried to put a better spin on it, saying: "It wasn't as bad as I first thought it was."
But that won't change the root cause of Game 1's ineffective play: The Islanders got away from what made them a tough team in the final 17 games of the regular season. They were unable to work the puck below the hash marks in the Pittsburgh zone and unable to keep the Penguins, most notably Pascal Dupuis, from barreling through the slot to find loose pucks.
From John Tavares on down the roster, no one could say they played well. How fast the Islanders can put that behind them will be a true test of the lessons learned this season.
"It wasn't indicative of who we are," Okposo said. "We just want to be better."
The Islanders lost to the Penguins, 6-1, on March 10, then beat Tampa Bay in the next game.
"This team has always responded," Capuano said. "The one thing about this club is we've found a way to get back on track."
Notes & quotes: Penguins center Sidney Crosby (jaw) practiced, skating with regular linemates Chris Kunitz and Dupuis, indicating he could be back for Game 2. James Neal, injured on a hit from Travis Hamonic early in the second period Wednesday night, did not skate for Pittsburgh.