Each time the Penguins take a small step forward and attempt to grab momentum, the Islanders respond with force.
The Islanders have pushed the Penguins to the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 3, extending their advantage in the series to 3-0.
The Penguins got the quick start they were looking for in their first home game when Garrett Wilson redirected the puck past Robin Lehner to open up the scoring at 12:54 of the first period. The crowd was on their feet, and everything was trending in Pittsburgh's direction.
But, just like in Game 2, the Islanders answered quickly. Jordan Eberle snapped a sharp-angled wrist shot past Matt Murray only 28 seconds later to knot the score at 1-1. The pending unrestricted free agent became the first Islander to score in each of the first three playoff games since Ray Ferraro did it in 1993.
But one goal was not enough to dash the hope of the Penguins. 62 seconds after Eberle's equalizing tally, Brock Nelson wired a wrist shot past Murray to give the Islanders a lead they would never relinquish.
"I think it was really big," Islanders captain Anders Lee said of the team's quick response following Wilson's goal on MSG Network. "When we have been on the other side of that, we know how it feels. … It really changed the momentum of the game."
The Islanders have prevented the Penguins from establishing their presence in this first-round series, winning the territorial battle and dictating the pace throughout each of the first three games.
Penguins captain and all-world player Sidney Crosby has yet to register a point and was on the ice for three Islanders goals Sunday afternoon.
"He doesn't need much to turn something into a goal or a nice play," Lee said of Crosby. "We just have to do whatever we can to limit them."
While the Islanders have given Crosby the proper respect, starting with coach Barry Trotz referring to him as the gold standard on multiple occasions, they have not backed down from the challenge, nor have been intimidated.
"This group is not afraid of work, not afraid of competition, they are not afraid of a whole lot," Trotz said. "They go out, and just do their job. … We just understand that we have a certain structure and certain way we do things, that's why we have success."
The Penguins will play with a different level of desperation in Game 4, and the Islanders won't have to change much to match that intensity.
"The fourth is the toughest," Trotz said in an exclusive interview with MSG Network. "We only know how to play one way. We are going to just continue to do what we do. Make sure we play with the desperation, detail and structure that we need."
The Islanders' first attempt to close out the Penguins will be Tuesday night at PPG Paints arena in Pittsburgh.
"They are going to come out flying, and will see their best hockey," Lee said. "We are going to have to raise our game if we are going to have a good night."