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No time for Islanders' Anders Lee to dwell on hitting the post in Game 2

New York Islanders' Anders Lee trying to pick

New York Islanders' Anders Lee trying to pick out the puck from Carolina Hurricanes' goalie Curtis McElhinny in the 3rd period during Game 2 of round 2 of the Eastern Conference Playoff at Barclays Center on April 28, 2019 Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

RALEIGH, N.C. – One goal in two games is clearly not enough, and everyone in the Islanders’ locker room realizes that.

It could have been at least two, if Anders Lee’s backhander late in the third period of Game 2 on Sunday at Barclays Center had gone a few inches to the left and gone in, instead of hitting the outside of the goalpost.

But it didn’t, and the Islanders ended up losing, 2-1, and fell behind, 2-0, in their second-round, best-of-seven playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

As the Islanders prepared to play Game 3 Wednesday night at PNC Arena, Lee, the Islanders’ captain, assured everyone he is looking ahead and not still thinking about that one missed opportunity.

“You know what, it’s tough,’’ he said of putting that play behind him. “You prepare yourself for those small little moments that can make or break a game, but as much as I want to remain [ticked] off and unhappy about that situation, you’ve got to look forward to this next game. You’ve got to regroup, you’ve got to be positive. I can’t change anything about that, or that time, or that moment. You’ve just got to look forward to it.

“I mean . . . we’ve got some exciting stuff coming up here,’’ he said. “This series is long from over, so to dwell on something like that, it’s not going to help me.’’

Lee was asked what, if anything, the Islanders may have to do differently with Curtis McElhinney in goal for Carolina in place of Petr Mrazek, who is expected to miss Game 3 with a lower-body injury. The well-traveled McElhinney, a 35-year-old career backup, stopped all 17 shots he faced after taking over for Mrazek early in the second period of Game 2.

“He played a wonderful game coming in the other night,’’ Lee said of McElhinney. “I think we’ve got to do a better job of making it difficult on the goalies. You’ve got to credit Mrazek and McElhinney, both, for how they’ve played.”

The Islanders have talked tough the last few days, saying they outplayed Carolina in the first two games and generated chances to score, only to be foiled by goalposts and crossbars and bad luck. They insisted they are confident.

But they won’t be OK if they can’t find some way to score a few goals in the next couple games. And Lee, in particular, is one player who needs to produce more.

The Islanders’ leading goal-scorer in the regular season with 28, Lee has one goal in six postseason games entering Wednesday night. Playing on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle, the 6-3, 231-pound Lee is supposed to get to the net for tips, screens and rebounds, and that’s where he was with the Islanders’ net empty and the extra attacker on at the end of Game 2, when he swept his shot into the outside of the post.

He’ll need to keep crashing the net in Games 3 and 4, Lee said, making it more difficult for the Carolina goalies. 

 “Get in front of them, putting shots on from worse angles, and trying to create havoc — that kind of thing,’’ said Lee.

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