After surviving three blown leads, the New York Islanders took a 1-0 series lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins and need to continue.
It’s not enough to just win in the postseason without learning how to win. Wednesday was a terrific example.
The Islanders were outshot in every period and 44-33 overall. They had a goal taken away almost immediately. Three separate occasions they were unable to extend their one-goal lead, giving them all away with the third goal coming as the Penguins had pulled their goaltender with 1:29 remaining.
Surrendering third-period leads is nothing new for this Islanders team. On 16 separate occasions during the regular season, the boys from Uniondale failed to hold advantages either entering or after taking the lead in the third period.
However, despite their inability to hold on a to a lead, the Islanders, as they showed during the regular season, were able to overcome and show the type of resilience that playoff teams need. In those 16 regular season games, the Islanders rallied to win 12 of them.
In the three occasions where the team tied the game with under a minute-and-a-half remaining, the Islanders won all three games. Could it be this team is growing up before our eyes?
If the Islanders are able to take Game 2 on Friday night, it will mark the first time since they took a 2-0 series lead against the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 Stanely Cup Finals. You have to go back two more series to find the last time the Islanders won the first two games of a series at home, occurring in the 1983 Patrick Division Finals against the Rangers.
If they are able to win on Friday, it will be a great sign historically, as the Islanders have won their last 11 best-of-7 series when taking a 2-0. Their only loss was the first time they did so, falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the 1978 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals.
On the flip side, the Penguins have not trailed 2-0 in a series since falling behind the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals (13 series). If they do fall behind 2-0, they have historically shown that doesn’t matter.
Overall, Pittsburgh has won five of the last 10 series they have fallen behind 2-0 (5-8 overall), however, three of those occasions occurred against the Washington Capitals.