RALEIGH, N.C. — Same series deficit, same scenario, different round.
The Islanders can only hope they turn it around like Barry Trotz’s former team did last season.
They entered Game 3 of their second-round series on Wednesday night at PNC Arena desperately needing a win after the Hurricanes swept the first two games at Barclays Center, 1-0 in overtime and 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Last year, the Capitals lost the first two games of their first-round series to the Blue Jackets at home, both in overtime, before rallying to win four straight and, ultimately, go on to win that franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Trotz said once Game 3 came around last year, he had a strong belief the Capitals would rally in that series.
“I don’t want to look back,” Trotz said on Wednesday as his team went through an optional morning skate. “I can say, through experience, you see trends. Last year, through the experience of the first game, I knew that we were going to take care of business. You’ve just got to let it play out.
“You can feel it,” Trotz added. “You can feel your group knows. It’s a great feeling because you just know and you don’t know how you know. You just know.”
That Capitals’ comeback has been addressed to these Islanders.
“Yeah, we spoke about it a little bit,” captain Anders Lee said. “The way the dynamic of the series can go, it can start off 1-0, 2-0 in your home building and you’re down. The next thing you know, you’ve dug yourselves a little bit of a hole. We understand all that kind of thing. We understand the importance [of Game 3], not just with getting within one but doing our best to change the momentum of the series.”
Goalie Robin Lehner certainly expressed confidence in the Islanders’ chances to do so, telling Newsday on Tuesday in East Meadow, “We’re going to go in and we’re going to win in their building, there’s no ifs and buts about it.”
“If you were an outsider and saw we’ve given up three goals in two games, you’d be going, ‘They’ve done a really good job,’ ” Trotz said. “Unfortunately, we’ve only scored one. I liked the confidence that the top guys show to the team, to everybody. They’re taking ownership and that’s what you want.”
Actually, what Trotz wants and what Lehner needs is more goal production from the Islanders.
Mathew Barzal had a goal waved off in Game 1 when Lee was whistled for goalie interference and defenseman Devon Toews had a goal waved off in Game 2 because of a kicking motion that would have given the Islanders a two-goal lead.
Jordan Eberle had one of the Islanders’ two shots off the crossbar in the third period of Game 2 and Lee’s backhander hit the outside of the right post with Lehner off for an extra skater.
Still, the Islanders know they need to finish their chances.
Top-line right wing Eberle, who had a goal in each of the four games of the first-round sweep of the Penguins, has an assist in two games against the Hurricanes and two shots on net.
Second-line center Brock Nelson, who had three goals against the Penguins, does not have a point in this series and has two shots after being held without a shot in Game 1.
Nelson’s left wing, Josh Bailey, also had three goals in the opening round. He does not have a point against the Hurricanes despite taking five shots in Game 1.
Trotz said it’s up to his players to adjust to how the Hurricanes are playing defensively.
The Hurricanes tend to swarm around the puck carriers, forcing the Islanders into quicker decisions.
“I just think your game has to adjust to the opponent a little bit,” Trotz said. “The Hurricanes are a high-pressure team. They pressure you all over the ice. You’ve got to fight for your inches. Right now, they’re not getting many inches so they’ve got to fight harder for those inches.”
The Islanders entered Game 3 having averaged 2.50 goals through their first six postseason games. That ranked last among the eight teams still alive in the NHL playoffs. The Hurricanes were seventh at 2.75 goals through their first nine playoff games.