“We did nothing but win a hockey game”: Islanders’ focus remains unwavering ahead of game 2 against Penguins

The culture surrounding the New York Islanders has changed so much since Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz arrived three years ago that the Game 1 road robbery against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday has not moved the team. counter.

That’s why the Islanders head coach provided the equivalent of the sarcastic gesture of circling your index finger with an equally unenthusiastic “whoop-of-doo” exclamation, as Game 2 looms on Tuesday night at the PPG Paints Arena.

“We didn’t do anything other than win a hockey game,” Trotz said Monday after his team’s limited optional training less than 24 hours after their 4-3 overtime win over the Penguins to take a lead 1-0 in the series in the first round.

“We went through a lot in the playoffs last year,” added Trotz after leading his team to the Eastern Conference final in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles last season. “We have a lot of returning players. We recognize that you take each match as a singular event and move on – good bad or indifferent. You try to improve yourself. Today, it was about putting our body back in place, our mind in the right place. “

That’s why Sunday afternoon’s thrilling shake-up, which saw the Islanders reverse a 2-1 deficit, cede the tying goal with three minutes remaining in regulation, and featuring newly acquired and recently-won Kyle Palmieri. difficulty, scoring his second total of the game in overtime. for the winner – is treated as usual for a club that brings a hardworking attitude to all facets of a season.

“It’s just important in any series to focus on one game at a time,” assists veteran forward Matt Martins. “It’s a four-man race [wins] and we did a good job winning the first game. Our next job is to make it a 2-0 series. We know it’s going to be tough, it’s a good hockey team… we have to be at our best.

The Islanders expect a big push from the Penguins, who don’t want to fall into a 2-0 hole like they did two years ago against New York. They could receive an extra boost in the form of star winger Evgeni Malkin – who came into Game 1 with an injury. His status for Game 2 is questionable.

“He’s a fantastic player. Such a talent, a game changer, ”said Trotz. “Will this do anything for us?” No. We play them the same way. Our concept is a very team concept and it won’t really change much. Just know that he has some unique qualities as a player that will make them better.

“They’re going to make their adjustments, we’re going to try to anticipate those adjustments… that’s where the chess game comes in a bit.”

On the Islanders’ injury side, Trotz hasn’t revealed much about injured starting goalie Semyon Varlamov, who missed Game 1, other than the one he skated with the team on Monday. Rookie Ilya Sorokin put on a dazzling display in Game 1, making 39 saves on 42 shots to secure the victory – but Varlamov is No.1, at least for this year as Sorokin continues to adjust to life in the NHL after arriving from Russia last summer.

“We will see where Varly is in terms of health. He’s very close, ”Trotz said. “I have confidence in our two goalkeepers. That’s the great thing about having Ilya. We knew the process would be slower, just the transition from his arrival from the KHL but at the same time his first start. [of the regular season against the Rangers] was by surprise and it didn’t go so well. I don’t know if that made him back down, but it caused us to take a very careful approach with him, knowing that his abilities are enormous. It doesn’t matter who we put in the net, we feel comfortable with it and we don’t apologize.

Catherine J. Martinez