RALEIGH, N.C. — For the Islanders to salvage their season, something has to change.
Barry Trotz said it might be the lineup for Game 4 of their second-round series against the Hurricanes on Friday night at PNC Arena.
And, yes, Trotz added, those changes could include goalie Robin Lehner, who has started all seven playoff games. He allowed three goals in Game 3 on Wednesday night before the Hurricanes added two empty-netters for a 5-2 victory that pushed the Islanders to the brink of elimination, but he has allowed only 12 goals in the postseason. The Islanders’ problems stem more from not being able to produce goals than Lehner not being able to stop the puck.
Lehner, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie and a leading candidate for the Masterton Trophy for dedication and perseverance, shared the Jennings Trophy with Thomas Greiss as the Islanders allowed an NHL-low 196 goals.
Greiss started all four of the Islanders’ regular-season games against the Hurricanes, giving up only three goals in his three wins over them.
So, at this point, Trotz is considering every option.
“At all positions,” he said after the Islanders practiced on Thursday afternoon. “, that’s a position. Quite frankly, I haven’t told them who’s playing in goal and I haven’t told them the lines.
“We haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted.”
Trotz was asked if he was worried about the reaction from the team, and from Lehner, if he opts to make a change.
“We’ve lost three,” Trotz said. “The reaction is, ‘Let’s go.’ ”
Lehner took the blame for Justin Williams’ third-period winner in Game 3 after his attempted clear was intercepted by the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho. But Trotz — and Lehner’s teammates — quickly absolved the goalie, and that one play would not be the reason for a switch in net.
Other than a goalie change, Trotz could shuffle his lines, maybe by inserting rookie forward Michael Dal Colle for the potential of more offense.
Trotz is not likely to alter the six defensemen he’s been using.
The Islanders did not run line drills during their 30-minute practice and Trotz sent the whole team off the ice en masse at the conclusion, so there was no reading tea leaves with which goalie came off first. (For the record, it was Greiss, but only because he was closer to the exit.)
The Islanders’ practice was upbeat, a sharp contrast to the somber mood in the dressing room after Wednesday’s loss.
“There’s 23 teams that would love to be playing tomorrow night, and they’re not,” Trotz said. “You can’t look back at it. We can’t correct what’s already done. Tomorrow night is a chance to start correcting it in the right way.
“You’ve got to man up a little bit here,” he added. “You’ve got to realize where you are. Tomorrow is our Game 7. That’s the way you have to look at it. You want to be calm, accept the challenge. But you want to have that desperation in your game and you want to have that total commitment.”
The Hurricanes know they haven’t won the series just yet.
“We’re up 3-0 but I don’t think we’ve been at our best,” former Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan said. “ was probably a better game for us, but probably flip a coin in the first two games and they could have won a game here or there. Their coaches and their players can say whatever they want, but we’re up 3-0 right now. As simple as that. I think we’re definitely in the driver’s seat.”
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