It’s not impossible, of course, for an NHL team to erase a two-game series deficit.
Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals know that all too well: They allowed the New York Rangers to come back to win a first-round matchup in 2013 after Washington took Games 1 and 2.
Take it further back, to 1985, and the Capitals have managed to lose nine series in which they led 2-0 or 3-1.
This time around, facing the New York Islanders, Ovechkin and Co. are among three teams heading into Friday hoping to avoid falling behind 2-0 by losing twice at home. The others are Nashville (hosting Chicago) and Vancouver (hosting Calgary).
“I don’t think anybody’s too worried out here or freaking out,” Capitals forward Michael Latta said Thursday after a brief optional skate.
Of Friday’s four home teams, only Montreal is up 1-0, against Ottawa.
“The worst thing we could have done today was be sad,” Washington forward Troy Brouwer said. “The guys in here are happy. We’re in the playoffs. We’re enjoying ourselves. But we have to be ready and try and change the momentum of the series.”
Said center Nicklas Backstrom: “The good thing is, it’s a seven-game series, so we can bounce back.”
According to STATS, teams that take a 2-0 lead in best-of-seven NHL playoff series are 292-48 in those series, an .859 winning percentage.
“We want to try to take a 2-nothing lead back home. … This is a huge game for us,” said Ryan Strome, who scored the go-ahead goal in New York’s 4-1 road victory Wednesday, his postseason debut.
Islanders captain John Tavares echoed coach Jack Capuano’s message that they’ll need to be wary of a better Capitals performance in Game 2.
“When you’re able to steal two games in a row, it can set you up in a good position,” Tavares said. “But that’s all it does. It’s hard to get four wins.”
Nashville is in the same predicament as Washington.
“It’s a really big game for both teams — but really for us,” Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said.
Asked whether Game 2 is a must-win, Nashville captain Shea Weber avoided that term, instead calling it “the next step in our journey.”
A look at the four NHL playoff games Friday night (all times EDT):
Islanders at Capitals, New York leads 1-0, Game 2, 7 p.m., NBCSN
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: Coach Barry Trotz and his players outlined several areas in which they’ll need improvement, including forechecking, puck control in the neutral zone, power-play decision-making, and traffic in front of the net. “We’re going to make a few adjustments,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said.
EYES ON ALEX: Ovechkin averages about a goal every two playoff games for his career, but he has only scored once over his past eight appearances. “When he’s on the ice, everybody knows that he’s out there,” said Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, credited with eight saves on Ovechkin in Game 1. Said Trotz about his captain: “At times, I thought he could do some things better.”
Senators at Canadiens, Montreal leads 1-0, Game 2, 7 p.m., CNBC
SLASHED STONE: Ottawa forward Mark Stone is “very questionable” for the rest of the series because of ligament damage and a microfracture in his right wrist from getting slashed by Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, according to Senators general manager Brian Murray, who wants Subban to be suspended. “The disturbing part, from our point of view, is that there was a threat made,” Murray said. Subban’s response: “I’ve never threatened anybody out there.”
Blackhawks at Predators, Chicago leads 1-0, Game 2, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN
KEEPING CRAWFORD: Goalie Corey Crawford will get another start for Chicago despite getting pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots in the first period Wednesday. His replacement, Scott Darling, saved all 42 shots he faced in the 4-3 overtime win. “He’s been our strength all year long,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said about Crawford.
NASHVILLE’S WOES: The Predators haven’t won any of their last seven games, a drought that dates to March 28, when they clinched a playoff berth with a 4-3 victory at Washington. Going back to Feb. 26, Nashville has lost 16 of its last 22 games.
Flames at Canucks, Calgary leads 1-0, Game 2, 10 p.m., CNBC
TWIN BILL: It doesn’t sound as if Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins has any intention of giving twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin more playing time. Each was on the ice for less than 18 minutes in Game 1, including not even five minutes in the third period, when Calgary scored both of its goals in a 2-1 victory. “The Sedins play their best game when they’re fresh,” Desjardins said.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.
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