The 2-0 series lead the Islanders are taking into Sunday's Game 3 matinee in Pittsburgh is well-earned. They were the better team throughout two games at the raucous Coliseum. And in Game 2 they clearly had the Penguins rattled, despite the fact that the Pens' core has been through it all over the years in the postseason.
But in the NHL playoffs, no lead is safe, and Barry Trotz knows that as well as anybody. Just last year, when he was with Washington, the division-winning Captials fell behind 2-0 in the first tround against Columbus after dropping the first two games in overtime. They needed double-overtime to take Game 3 and eventually winning four straight to take the series before winning the Stanley Cup.
Trotz's Capitals held a 3-1 series lead in the second round against the Rangers in 2015, and the Rangers ended up winning three straight after Washington was 101 seconds away from winning the series in Game 5.
"There's no speech. Everybody's well aware of all the stuff that happened," Trotz told reporters Saturday. "There's no speeches. We look at it as, we've got to get the next game. The series is far from over. We're just worried about trying to get another game."
A lot has gone right for the Isles. The top line of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle has looked dynamic. Robin Lehner has been great in net. But perhaps most importantly, they've been able to contain the Sidney Crosby line, with the Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock pairing earning high marks for how they've handled the high-pressure assignment.
"Sid is a fantastic player. He's the gold standard when it comes to the game in general and what he's capable of doing," Trotz said. "You hope to contain him and do your best. We know he's gonna create some things and (Evgeni) Malkin's gonna create some things. That's why they're great players."
The Islanders are in prime position to take a commanding 3-0 series lead on Sunday, but it doesn't seem as if there's any complacency. And there can't be.
"Until you get the fourth one," Trotz said, "the series is always on."