Carolina Hurricanes' Jake Guentzel (59) tries to gather in the...

Carolina Hurricanes' Jake Guentzel (59) tries to gather in the puck between New York Islanders' Ryan Pulock (6) and Adam Pelech (3) during the first period in Game 1. Credit: AP/Karl B DeBlaker

There’s plenty of playoff experience among the Islanders players but only Robert Bortuzzo has traveled the postseason journey to its desired conclusion of lifting the Stanley Cup, as he did in 2019 with the Blues.

So the defenseman was well aware of how overcoming adversity early in a playoff run can eventually pay benefits in the later rounds. And the Islanders certainly were facing early adversity for Thursday night’s Game 3 of their first-round series against the Hurricanes after dropping the first two games in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Islanders were the stronger team for much of their 3-1 loss in Game 1 on Saturday and then blew a three-goal, second-period lead in Monday night’s 5-3 defeat in Game 2 as they were dominated for the final 36 minutes and allowed the tying and winning goals within nine seconds late in the third period.

“There were a bunch of different situations,” Bortuzzo said of the Blues’ Cup run in which they won their first- and third-round series in six games and their second-round series and Cup final matchup with the Bruins in seven. “Whether you lost Game 1. In the conference final we had a hand-pass loss in overtime. We just took it in stride. We tried to control what we can control.

“And that’s all we can do here, is control what we can control. Go out and win one hockey game. Start with that and see where that takes us.”

The core group of Islanders, of course, are well acquainted with playoff adversity, too, having reached the NHL semifinals in both 2020 and 2021 before losing to the eventual Cup-champion Lightning.

“It’s like anything, if you can battle through the adversity and overcome it, that gives you a ton of confidence,” defenseman Adam Pelech said. “Which is very important. We’ve definitely faced adversities the last couple of games but it’s great to be back at home.”

Of course, the Islanders lost two of three home matches to the Hurricanes in last season’s first round, with the Hurricanes clinching with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6 at UBS Arena.

Nonetheless …

“An opportunity, for sure,” Brock Nelson said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We found ourselves in a couple different situations. We thought we played a good game in Game 1 and didn’t get the result and maybe didn’t play our best in the second game and found ourselves up and in a position where we thought we could have got it, too. All that’s past now and we have an opportunity to take care of business.”

Coach Patrick Roy switched to goalie Ilya Sorokin for Game 3 after Semyon Varlamov started the first two games. And he had the Islanders working hard on more effective breakouts from their own zone during Wednesday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.

The Islanders were facing the adversity of an 0-2 deficit because the Hurricanes dominated puck possession in Game 2 and out-attempted the Islanders by a ridiculously-lopsided 110-28.

“I think you build off of it,” Nelson said. “Any team that makes a deep run or wins it all, they probably look back and say they had moments where they had tough times where they were able to fight through it and come together, build chemistry, build confidence.

“All that is part of the bigger picture, which is the journey to get there.”

Roy, a Hall of Fame goalie, successfully completed that postseason journey four times, backstopping the Canadiens to Cups in 1986 and 1993 and doing the same with the Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.

So he just smiled knowingly when asked about overcoming any early adversity. Roy was also quick to mention how the Islanders, who were still five points out of a playoff spot on March 31, secured third place in the Metropolitan Division by finishing the season on an 8-0-1 run.

“Adversity?” Roy said. “I think we have adversity for the last month and a half. I’m not saying we’re used to it. But, I mean, we saw that. We need to just go out there and play our game and focus on the things we need to do and bring that urgency in our game.”

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