All decided by one goal.
That’s how close the Islanders/Penguins opening round series has been, but it’s the Pens who will take a 2-1 series lead into game four on Saturday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum (3pm NBC). In game three on Thursday night, the Islanders battled back from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits in the third period to tie the game twice, but ultimately lost 5-4.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions,” said Islanders forward Jordan Eberle after practice on Friday. “You tie it, they score, you tie it again, they score. It hurts a bit but it’s playoff hockey. There’s going to be highs and lows and the key is to just stay in the moment. We had a good day (Friday) on the ice to regroup and our minds have switched to (Saturday) and evening up this series.”
Islanders/Penguins First Round Schedule:
Game 1: Sunday May 16th…Islanders 4 Penguins 3 (OT) (Isles lead 1-0)
Game 2: Tuesday May 18th…Penguins 2 Islanders 1 (series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Thursday May 20th…Penguins 5 Islanders 4 (PIT leads 2-1)
Game 4: Saturday May 22nd…Penguins at Islanders…3pm…NBC
Game 5: Monday May 24th…Islanders at Penguins…7pm…MSG+
*Game 6: Wednesday May 26th…Penguins at Islanders…TBD
*Game 7: Friday May 28th…Islanders at Penguins…TBD
Over the last three seasons, the Islanders have always maintained an even keel approach with emotions after playoff games win or lose, but one has to wonder how difficult it will be to turn the page after what was tough game to let slip away.
“I think you get excited about it,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “I think what you find with athletes is the harder the game and the more emotion, I think they sort of embrace that a little bit. Those are the fun games. The games that aren’t fun are the ones with no emotion. I didn’t like the result we go but I enjoyed the game.”
The game wasn’t only a spectrum of emotions for the Islanders players and coaches but also for the 6,800 fans that were in attendance. It was the largest home crowd that the Islanders have played in front of since last March before the pandemic started. The atmosphere was electric and it helped the Islanders get back into the game in the third period.
“It was huge,” said Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri. “I’ve had the opportunity to play in this building a couple of times as an opponent and it’s always been a tough building to play in. In the playoffs, being the home team, it’s special for us and every guy in that room appreciates it. We want to go out there and give them something to cheer about.”
And the fans are hoping for is to cheer the Islanders on to a win that would tie the series and ensure a return to Nassau Coliseum for a game six. This has been a hard-fought series so far and it would be safe to expect much of the same the rest of the way.