The plan is simple tonight for the New York Islanders.
Put the hammer down.
Two nights ago, they let their opponent â€” the Washington Capitals â€” off the mat after taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. Mistakes were made, there were missed opportunities, and the team stopped skating after the Caps seized the momentum.
â€œThe playoffs are all about momentum, theyâ€™re all about adjustments, theyâ€™re all about those moments and how you react to them. I didnâ€™t think we reacted very good [Tuesday] night,â€ head coach Barry Trotz told the media Wednesday. â€œWe didnâ€™t have enough push. We didnâ€™t have enough will to beat a good, desperate team.
The Isles canâ€™t have that happen again if they want to move on. What that entails is not leaving anything for chance tonight. Theyâ€™re still in a very favorable position up 3-1 and played strong enough to win, but they canâ€™t give the Capitals any more life.
Alex Ovechkin and Co. are awake now. And as history tellsÂ us, they can be a runaway freight train when they get going.
In their run to the Cup two years ago, the Caps went down 2-0 in their first-round series against Columbus, only to win the next four straight games. They also back from 3-2 in the Conference Finals to win the series against Tampa.
So yeah, the Caps are battle-tested and have the heart, pride of a champion. It was on display in game four and could happen again if the Isles arenâ€™t careful.Â
â€œI know a lot about that core, they have obviously some real strong character there, and they werenâ€™t going away,â€ Trotz added.
From their perspective, all the Islanders need to do is take their first three games of the series combined with their performance in the closeout game from last round against Florida and put it all together. What they can also do is
take notice of what happened in the Flyers-Canadiens game last night.
Philadelphia let the Habs hang around and ended up losing 5-3. Now they have to try to close them out again on Saturday.
Montreal now has a little hope. The Islanders cannot go down the same path with Washington in any sense of the word. The angst is already there that the Isles couldnâ€™t close it out last game. If this series needs another game or ends up going seven…I donâ€™t even want to think about that possibility.
â€œI think if we do the right things and we play the way we want to play â€¦ and play the Islander way and make it hard on them and just play like we play when we have success, I think thatâ€™s the thing we have to focus on,â€ forward Anthony Beauvillier said.
â€œItâ€™s not really about them. Itâ€™s about us getting the job done next game.â€
Beauvillier is spot on.
They can get that job done tonight will come down to them putting the hammer down on the Capitals from the get-go this evening.