Islanders notebook: Showing experience may be overrated
The New York Islanders have 16 players — nearly three-fourths of their roster — who had been in fewer than five career playoff games before Thursday night.
The Penguins are annual postseason participants — seven consecutive seasons, including a Stanley Cup title in 2009 and the current Eastern Conference first-round series against the Islanders.
Yet the No. 8-seeded Islanders are going home for Game 6 on Saturday still holding a chance to upset the No. 1 Penguins.
“You don't need experience in the playoffs,” Islanders defenseman Brian Strait said. “You need guys to step up. That's what we've had so far.”
Strait, who was the Penguins' third-round draft choice in 2006, was claimed off waivers Jan. 18 by the Islanders. He played in three playoff games with the Penguins last season.
He said familiarity with the opponent means little.
“I don't think playing against them in practice really helps you,” he said. “(In the playoffs), it's anything goes. You have to make decisions quicker.”
Three times in the series, the Penguins — on goals by Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin — scored less than a minute after the Islanders did.
“We always talk how the shift after a goal is big,” coach Jack Capuano said. “You are facing a team that can strike quickly.”
The Penguins didn't score after an Islanders goal through two periods Thursday — for good reason: The Islanders were scoreless in that time. But Capuano's worst fears were realized. Penguins Tyler Kennedy and Douglas Murray scored 82 seconds apart in the second period.
— Jerry DiPaola