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Islanders find a silver lining in the Game 1 loss to Hurricanes

NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. – Was there enough good in this Game 1 loss to the Hurricanes that the Islanders could leave PNC Arena feeling like they had a blueprint to win the series?

Well, they certainly thought so.

“Absolutely,” Kyle Palmieri said after the 3-1 loss in the play-off opener on Saturday night. “I think we saw ways we could be successful. We saw ways we could limit their opportunities.”

Kyle Palmieri stretches to shoot the puck during the third period of the Islanders’ 3-1 loss on Saturday night. The shot went wide of Hurricanes goalkeeper Frederik Andersen. AP

The prevailing sentiment in the Islanders’ locker room was essentially just that.

They had played well enough to win, hit two posts on their two best chances in the third period and lost.

There isn’t much room for positives in a best-of-seven series, and the Islanders are well aware of that.

But if they continue to play the kind of defense that limited Carolina to just 26 shots on net during Saturday’s series, they think they have a chance.

“There was a lot to take away from the game that we did well,” Noah Dobson said. “It just came down to it being a close game. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had. They did. But we are not going to hang our heads here.”

Mathew Barzal takes a shot during the second period of Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes. Getty Images

The parallels to a year ago, when the Islanders lost an equally tight Game 1 to Stefan Noesen’s game winner, are there for the taking after Noesen’s goal (3:44 in the third) proved to be the difference here.

The Islanders had every opportunity to steal home ice in that series, but dropped Game 2 in overtime when Scott Mayfield headed up a missed high stick, leading to Jesper Fast’s game winner.

They never led that series, losing in six games.

That’s a good example of how little it can mean to be close in individual games in a best-of-seven series.

And if the Islanders drop Game 2 on Monday, the encouragement they got from Game 1 will be reduced to nothing, no matter how good they look.

But what if they can steal just one game in the South and reach Long Island on even footing?

Well, then it’s a completely different series.

And if they can make this kind of defensive effort again, they expect this scenario to play out.

“We have been playing well defensively for a while now,” said coach Patrick Roy. “Obviously, playing good defense gives you the opportunity to win every game and that’s what our guys did.”




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