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Islanders' youngsters respond to playoff pressure

Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews aren't afraid of the big stage.

Islanders center Mathew Barzal  goes for the

Islanders center Mathew Barzal  goes for the puck on Penguins right wing Phil Kessel during the third period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Coaches can’t help but wonder how young players will respond to their first playoff experience.

For the Islanders, forwards Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier are both 21 and defenseman Devon Toews is a rookie. And all three have made significant contributions as the Islanders have taken a 2-0 lead over the Penguins in their first-round series.

“Just because the playoffs are different and the focus is a little bit different and the consequences are a little more extreme, you wonder how different players deal with pressure,” Trotz said before the Islanders’ 3-1 win on Friday night in Game 2 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Anthony Beauvillier, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Barzal, tied the score at 1-1 at 13:25 of the second period for his first career playoff goal.

“Beau was good,” Trotz said. “This is a fabulous experience for them in this atmosphere. It’s the type of game for younger guys that they’ve got to play through it. That’s just great for their growth.”

Beauvillier was in the Game 2 lineup after sitting out Thursday’s practice for maintenance.

Toews’ blue-line shot set up Josh Bailey’s power-play goal at 11:38 of the third period and Barzal’s slick-skating move set up Bailey’s winner in the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime win in Wednesday night’s Game 1. Toews also started a passing sequence that led to Brock Nelson’s power-play goal in that game.                            

Lehner shines again

Goalie Robin Lehner is 2-for-2 in NHL playoff starts after a 31- save performance.

That included robbing Matt Cullen at the post with his left pad in the first minute of the second period.

“We were just patient,” Lehner said. “We’ve been in 1-1, 2-1, 2-2 situations all year going into the third. That’s been a great experience for us. We had no panic.”

Penguins notes

Coach Mike Sullivan re-inserted defenseman Jack Johnson, who played in all 82 regular-season games but was a healthy scratch in Game 1, and sat Olli Maatta, who struggled on Wednesday. But Johnson took back-to-back penalties in the first period, including running over defenseman Adam Pelech for interference as he exited the penalty box…Left wing Jared McCann (upper body) is day-to-day…Defenseman Erik Gudbranson logged 15:55 with a goal despite going hard into the wall skates first at 8:34 of the third period in Game 1 as Islanders captain Anders Lee was called for boarding. “When it first happened, I thought I was going to turn around and my ankle was going to be facing a way it shouldn’t be,” Gudbranson said. “I definitely got lucky.” At the same time, he did not blame Lee. “I think it was an unlucky play,” Gudbranson said. “I was trying to box him out and get to the puck first. I was looking left to see what was coming that way and something took my legs out and I ended up in the wall like that. It’s just a freaky play.” ... Left wing Zach Aston-Reese grew up on Staten Island and his parents attended Game 2. “For me personally, it’s pretty cool to play back at home,” he said.

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