RALEIGH, N.C. — The Islanders can believe they’ve played the Hurricanes essentially even in this first-round series, but the reality is they must win Game 5 on Tuesday night at PNC Arena or be dealt a quick elimination.
“I think we’re right there,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said on Monday with neither team practicing. “You win this next game, it’s a total new series again.”
Self-inflicted wounds in the form of undisciplined penalties helped lead to a 5-2 loss in Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 at UBS Arena as the Hurricanes took a 3-1 series lead.
And, of course, there will be strong obstacles on Tuesday. The Hurricanes are 9-1 at home in the playoffs since last season and have the decided edge in special-teams play. They went 2-for-5 on the power play in Game 4 — the first goal coming on a five-on-three opportunity after a questionable goalie interference call against Zach Parise early in the first period — and are 5-for-18 in the series. The Islanders went 0-for-3 on Sunday and are 1-for-12 overall.
“We have to focus on being a little more disciplined,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We’re trying to play physical and maybe we were crossing the line a little bit at times so that we have to control our emotions a little more.”
“We’ve got to be more disciplined,” defenseman Sebastian Aho said. “We can’t take as many penalties. We’ve just got to try and not focus on the ref. I feel like we were maybe a little bit too focused on being [ticked] off at them. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and play our game and I feel like most of it will come into place.”
The Hurricanes won the first two games of the series at home, taking a 2-0 lead in each contest. They won Game 1, 2-1, and rallied to win Game 2, 4-3, in overtime after the Islanders scored three unanswered goals to take the lead in the third period.
The Islanders do have confidence entering an elimination game. They have dealt well with pressure since a 2-8-3 start to the new year left them six points out of a playoff spot on Jan. 26.
The Islanders are 3-3 in playoff elimination games since Lou Lamoriello took over as president/general manager before the 2018-19 season.
“We have all the optimism in the world,” coach Lane Lambert said. “It’s an opportunity.”
“Stick to our game that we’ve been playing for the last couple of games,” Aho said. “I feel like we’ve played good hockey and we just haven’t been able to finish the job and put pucks in the net. Just kind of relax and not hold the stick too tight.”
Pulock on Drury check. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour listed Jack Drury as day-to-day but said the left wing was improving after taking a hard check from Pulock and needing to be helped off the ice early in Game 4. Pulock received a two-minute minor for boarding, though it was reviewed to see if a five-minute major or an ejection was warranted. “The puck was coming down the wall and we basically looked at each other and I was trying to play hard and finish the check,” Pulock said. “When I tried to finish, he kind of turned. It was an unfortunate situation. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt [but] I couldn’t really control my actions after he turned. You don’t want to get kicked out of the game. I don’t want to be that type of player. I’ve never really been that type of player in my career.”