When you lose a game 1-0, as the Islanders did Friday in overtime in the opener of their second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes at Barclays Center, it’s a reality that any one moment could have changed the game and reversed the result.
One of those key moments came with about six minutes left in the first period when Josh Bailey found himself flying over the blue line on a breakaway against Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek. Bailey went to his backhand and lifted a shot that Mrazek picked out of the air with his glove.
It was an important point in the game because the Islanders, after a sluggish start, were dominating play at the time.
Had Bailey scored to give the Islanders the lead, who knows how the Hurricanes — playing 48 hours after their double-overtime Game 7 win over Washington in the first round — would have responded?
Did he realize that a goal there might have been the game-winner? “Of course,’’ Bailey said after the Islanders’ brief practice Saturday at Barclays Center. “It went through my mind after the game. You think back to those chances. But you can’t beat yourself up over that stuff.
“I think as I’ve gotten older and more experienced in the league, it’s easier to push those things aside and keep focused and use it more as ‘OK, what am I going to do next time?’ Not that it’s going to work, but maybe it’ll give you a little bit more of an edge.’’
Bailey, who scored in overtime in Game 1 of the first-round series against Pittsburgh, said he had so much time to think on the breakaway that he first thought of doing one thing but changed his mind and did something else.
“As soon as the turnover happened, Kuhnie [Tom Kuhnhackl] knew I was available. I was calling for it as well,’’ he said. “I just wanted to set my angle and come in and make a decisive move. Your mind can go to what your comfort is on breakaways, and I think, originally, I thought about going five-hole, and then went and made a decent move, I thought, and he hung in there. He’s a good goalie. I think with breakaways and shootouts and stuff, I think he’s got a good track record.’’
The 6-1, 190-pound Mrazek faced only six shootout shots during the regular season and did not allow a goal. He was 2-0 in shootouts and is 14-6 in his career, including 10-1 in the last three seasons. In his career, he has allowed 21 goals on 85 shootout attempts (.752 save percentage).
Mrazek, who made 31 saves in earning his second shutout of these playoffs and the fifth of his career, is 5-3 with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage this postseason. That includes allowing six goals on 28 shots in Game 5 of the Hurricanes’ first-round series against Washington.
He is 9-9 with a 2.09 GAA and .921 save percentage in the playoffs in his career. In the 2018-19 regular season, he was 23-14-3 with a 2.39 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
“He’s athletic,’’ Bailey said. “He’s never really out of a play, he’s so quick. He’s unpredictable at times. Some goalies can be set and you’ve got to make sure you make a good shot. With him, it’s tough to read him sometimes. I think . . . it’s like the old saying, you’ve got to make sure you get bodies to the net and all those things, and just make things tough on him.’’