Jack Capuano was blunt in his assessment of how some of his more skilled forwards handled themselves in Game 1 -- and how the coaching staff debated whether some of those Islanders would even dress for Game 2 and beyond.
"We met with certain guys and told them that if they wanted to stay in the lineup, there's a way they had to play," Capuano said after an optional practice Monday. "And I thought those guys answered the bell going forward. Some guys, the physical side may not be in their DNA, but they elevated their games and it was good to see."
Capuano didn't divulge names, but it was easy to spot the Islanders players who took the coaches' message to heart.
Michael Grabner threw his body around and worked the walls, forcing a turnover and setting up the second Islanders goal. Brad Boyes laid out Mark Eaton with a big hit that had Eaton a bit out of position as John Tavares bore down to score the tying goal in the third.
"It's definitely fun to get cheered for stuff like that," said Grabner, who believed his presence on a line with bangers Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin called for a new side to his speed-and-skill game. "Everybody has to do more."
Bylsma impressed by roar
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn't get to experience playoff hockey in his one season as an Islanders assistant in 2005-06, but he was enthused to see and hear the sold-out noise Sunday, the first playoff game at Nassau Coliseum since 2007.
"From the time we got here in the morning, our guys were really excited playing in that atmosphere. That's what it's all about," he said. "They really were energized, they were loud. It certainly was a pretty great atmosphere in this building."