By Lenn Robbins
After the Islanders lost their first game of the playoffs on Wednesday, a 3-2 setback to the Florida Panthers, forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau said his team is still in a good place. He’s correct, but the Islanders could be in a much better place. They could have closed out the Panthers and avoided a Game 4 Friday at high noon in Toronto.
If the Islanders were to lose that game, those sweaters are going to get awfully tight.
In NHL playoff history, the team that wins the first two games of a series is 56-1.
The Islanders surely know this because they are that one team that rallied from 0-2 to beat the Washington Capitals in 1985.
“Obviously we didn’t execute our game plan,” Pageau, whose second period goal tied the score at 1-1, told reporters. “Discipline was in our game plan, and we didn’t do it. It’s unfortunate, but we’re still in a good position.”
Brock Nelson scored at 18:33 of the third on a 6-of-5 advantage to cut the Panthers’ lead to 3-2 but the Islanders couldn’t force overtime. Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made three of his 20 saves in the final 1:27 to preserve the win.
“It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity for us to knock them out, but they’re a good hockey team,” New York coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “They’re a very talented team and well-coached, and they’ve got some star power. We got away a little bit from our game, but we know we have to get back to our game.”