If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The New York Islanders found a perfect recipe and executed it to perfection as they completed a first-round series sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday evening with a 3-1 victory.
"A lot of people wrote us off and they are a bit shocked," Jordan Eberle said on MSG Network. "We are confident in the way that we play. This is one of the tighter knit teams that I have played on. We love battling and playing for each other. You do that every night on a consistent basis you can go places."
Nassau Coliseum will be shut down for the remainder of the postseason as the Islanders will shift their home games to Barclays Center for the rest of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"There were some nerves there at the end but we stuck together," Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner said of the final few minutes before Josh Bailey added a long-distance empty-netter to seal the game.
The Penguins scored first in the last three games of the series but the Islanders proved to themselves and the NHL community how resilient, deep and mentally strong they are as a group.
It wasn't just one player who had a big series, although Eberle's performance was quite impressive. Each line contributed in a meaningful fashion.
Whether it was Casey Cizikas' line limiting Sidney Crosby and company throughout the entire series, or Leo Komarov and Anthony Beauvillier scoring timely goals, or Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock coming of age as a legitimate shut down defensive pairing, or Robin Lehner blossoming into a top-flight goaltender. The Islanders truly embraced the value of a team coming together, and demonstrated it against the Penguins.
"The strength is within the group," Eberle said. "When we roll four lines and we are able to structurally play well, we are able to get wins and play the right way. We have done that all year, playoff time it's even more important."
The Penguins struggled throughout the series to establish momentum, leading for only 4:51 in four consecutive losses to the Islanders. Each time Pittsburgh was able to generate any sort of advantage, New York would answer.
Eberle scored in his fourth straight game to help New York erase an early one-goal deficit and then Brock Nelson sucked the life right out of the building with a late first-period tally to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
"It was huge to just calm the crowd down a little bit," Islanders captain Anders Lee said following the Islanders' first playoff series win since 2016. "We knew they were going to have a push, they had a push pretty much the whole game tonight. We just did our best to bend and not break."
The Islanders' character was challenged one last time in the third period, with two key contributors sidelined with injuries. Johnny Boychuk and Cal Clutterbuck each left the game late in the second period and did not return.
But Lehner rose to the occasion, making nine key stops in the final period to cap a 32-save performance that sealed the Islanders' first series sweep since the 1983 Cup Final against the Oilers. He was an anchor for New York through the series, making 130 saves on 136 shots for a .956 save percentage.
Lehner, an inspiration off the ice for the way he has turned his life around while being publicly vocal in his battle with mental health issues and addiction, embodies the Islanders' resilience on the ice, and will take it to the next round.
For now, the Islanders will enjoy a well-deserved break after completing the first step on their postseason journey. But, when they return for second-round action against Barry Trotz's former team, or the up-and-coming Hurricanes, they have conviction that their style can lead them to places most teams only dream about.