The New York Islanders know there are things they must clean up to avoid falling into a big hole.
Playing for the first time in 10 days, the Islanders faced a Carolina team that had won a double-overtime Game 7 two nights earlier. New York lost 1-0 when Jordan Staal scored 4:04 into the extra period Friday night.
New York’s Jordan Eberle doesn’t think his team showed rust after completing a first-round sweep of Pittsburgh on April 16.
“The first period, I thought we controlled most of it,” Eberle said. “The biggest thing was we got a little uncharacteristic with some of the plays we made. Turning the puck over at the blue line, giving them odd-man rushes, giving them chances (goalie Robin Lehner) doesn’t normally see.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz might make tweaks for Game 2 on Sunday (3 p.m. EDT, NBC), such as mixing up a line combination.
“I don’t think we have to change a whole lot,” he said. “If we had converted some of our chances early maybe it might be a different story.”
The Lehner and Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek finished with 31 saves, making several nice stops to keep the game scoreless through 60 minutes. The Islanders also had a goal by Mathew Barzal waved off late in the second period and a penalty called on Anders Lee for goalie interference for falling into Mrazek on the play.
“We had our chances, we had some good looks,” Eberle said. “We’re a good team. We’re going to bounce back.”
“It’s Game 1, they didn’t win the series,” he said. “We lost a game, we have to respond right back.”
With the Hurricanes on a tear since January and their confidence building, coach Rod Brind’Amour believes his team expects to win no matter how dire the situation.
Carolina was 15-17-5 on Dec. 30 and one point out of last place in the East before going 31-12-2 the rest of the way to earn the top wild card in the Eastern Conference for its first postseason berth in 10 years.
The Hurricanes advanced to the second round after getting past Washington, with the home team winning over the first six games. Carolina then trailed 3-1 on the road in Game 7 before rallying to tie it in the third period and winning in the second overtime.
Two nights later in New York, the Hurricanes took the series lead in the opener.
“The group believes in each other,” Brind’Amour said. “So when they get in these situations there’s certainly no panic. I think we expect to win. That’s the thing that’s changed this whole year.”
Avalanche at Sharks, San Jose leads 1-0 (7:30 p.m. EDT NBCSN)
When San Jose struggled early in the opener, goaltender Martin Jones kept his team in the team in the game long enough for his teammates for find their legs.
After he was pulled twice in a span of three games in the first round against Vegas, Jones has been a completely different goalie the past four games.
He robbed Carl Soderberg twice early in Game 1 and also performed well when the Sharks killed a four-minute power play before rallying with three goals in the final half of the second period to go on to win 5-2.
Jones has a .943 save percentage the last four games after posting a .796 save percentage the previous three.
“I’m just trying to play my game and not overthink it,” he said. “We’ve got a great team in front of me and we defend hard. And they make my job easy a lot of nights, too.”
The Avalanche lamented the missed chances, especially the failure to build on the 2-1 lead during the four-minute power play in the second period.
“We’ve got to make sure when we’re hitting those lows in the game or when they’re cranking it on, we’re limiting our mistakes,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Ultimately, that ended up costing us for five or 10 minutes at the end of the second.”
The Avalanche have won just twice — including one game in the 2010 playoffs — in their past 23 games in San Jose since the start of the 2008-09 season.