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Robin Lehner

Apr 4, 2019; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his game winning goal in a shootout against the Florida Panthers with left wing Anders Lee (27). Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)
Apr 4, 2019; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his game winning goal in a shootout against the Florida Panthers with left wing Anders Lee (27). Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)

With about a month-and-a-half remaining until the start of free agency on July 1, and just more than five weeks until the interview period, there's nothing certain yet regarding which of the Islanders' pending unrestricted free agents will be back with the team.

Mining for information from a Lou Lamoriello-run team can often be an exercise in futility. So The Athletic's Arthur Staple spoke with several outside sources to try to get a better sense of what may happen with Anders LeeBrock NelsonJordan EberleRobin Lehner and Valtteri Filppula.

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Robin Lehner, Valtteri Filppula
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The Islanders face free agency 00:01:46
Lou Lamoriello, Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, and Barry Trotz look ahead to an offseason of change and growth for the New York Islanders.

The Islanders cleaned out their lockers on Monday and officially closed out their 2018-19 season, which saw them reach the second-round of the playoffs only to be swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

While the team lost John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer, the Islanders still exceeded expectations behind first-year head coach Barry Trotz and first-year team president Lou Lamoriello. 

Lamoriello and Trotz both addressed the media on Monday on what lies ahead for the franchise. Center Mathew Barzal, captain Anders Lee and goalie Robin Lehner, the latter of whom are free agents, also discussed the future of the team as well as what could be in store for their own futures. 

Tags: Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Robin Lehner
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May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) and left wing Anders Lee (27) looks on during warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) and left wing Anders Lee (27) looks on during warmups before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

There will be a sour taste in the Islanders' mouths after being swept by Carolina, one round after sweeping Pittsburgh. This surprising season was indubitably a success given their low expectations, but knowing that the Eastern Conference was wide open and there for the taking will leave the Isles closely examing the hows and whys of their elimination.

It leads into what will be a crucial summer for the Islanders. They've got the coach, they've got the GM and they've gone from having a bleak outlook to legitimate contenders. Now they need to figure out how to take the next step toward winning the Stanley Cup. Here are five big questions the Islanders face entering the offseason.

1. Will Robin Lehner remain with the Islanders?

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
May 3, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in game four of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

Barry Trotz couldn't find the right buttons to push as the Islanders were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs Friday evening.

Different line combinations, a goaltender swap early in the second period and the threat of elimination weren't enough as the Hurricanes defeated the Islanders 5-2 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2008-09.

Several teams have won 4-0 and then lost 0-4 in consecutive playoff series. However, the only team to do that in the first two rounds of a postseason since the NHL expanded the first round to best-of-seven in 1986-87 was the Sabres in 1993 when they swept the Bruins and then were swept by the Canadiens (per Elias Sports Bureau.)

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Carolina Hurricanes, Mathew Barzal, Robin Lehner
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Canes complete sweep of Isles 00:02:01
Head coaches Barry Trotz and Rod Brind'Amour comment on the Hurricanes sweep of the Islanders.

Four up, four down. That's how it went for the Islanders in the playoffs as after they swept the Penguins in the first round, they just couldn't make enough plays to pull out a victory against the Hurricanes. The Isles dropped Game 4 Friday night, 5-2, and were swept out of the postseason.  >> Box Score

Six takeaways from Friday's game...

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Mathew Barzal, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Apr 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of game two of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of game two of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

After more than a day of speculation, Robin Lehner keeps the Islander net for Game 4 Friday night, with Thomas Greiss remaining on the bench.

Cal Clutterbuck, who played in Game 3 despite dealing with an apparent leg injury, is out Friday. Michael Dal Colle enters the lineup.

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

After saying Thursday he was considering wholesale changes to the Islanders' lineup, Barry Trotz wouldn't reveal his plans Friday hours before their do-or-die Game 4 in Raleigh.

Trotz said he wanted to keep the Hurricanes "on their toes" and didn't name a starting goaltender. Robin Lehner has started the Isles' first seven playoff games, but he worked in a timeshare with Thomas Greiss during the season. 

Tags: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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May 1, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz speaks to the media after game three of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports  (James Guillory)
May 1, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz speaks to the media after game three of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

The Islanders could look very different in Game 4.

Barry Trotz is considering a lineup overhaul with the Islanders on the brink, trailing Carolina 3-0 in the second round heading into Friday's do-or-die contest. 

And those changes might even including benching Vezina finalist Robin Lehner

"At all positions," Trotz said when asked about where changes could come.

Tags: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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May 1, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams (14) celebrates after a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports  (James Guillory)
May 1, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams (14) celebrates after a goal against the New York Islanders during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

The New York Islanders left Barclays Center believing the results were not a reflection of their effort through the first two games of the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

However, on Wednesday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh, the Islanders were not the better team and now face a monumental challenge trailing the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-0.

Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and Sebastian Aho recorded a goal and an assist, as the Hurricanes skated to a 5-2 victory in Game 3. Justin Faulk and Justin Williams also found the back of the net while Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves.

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Carolina Hurricanes, Josh Bailey, Robin Lehner
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Trotz realistic after 5-2 loss 00:00:51
Barry Trotz is realistic after the 5-2 loss against the Hurricanes. The Isles have a steep hill to climb as the Canes can clinch on Friday.

The Islanders are in a big hole after the Hurricanes handled them in a 5-2 loss on the road to give themselves a 3-0 lead in this Second Round series. >> Box Score

Five takeaways from Wednesday's game...

1) It was the Hurricanes getting on the board first, as Teuvo Teravainen buried it right next to the goal line. But Devon Toews quickly made it a tie game at one apiece with a power play goal. It was the rookie's first Stanley Cup Playoff goal of his career. 

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Josh Bailey, Robin Lehner
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Apr 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of game two of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of game two of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Maybe this can be considered a guarantee, maybe not.

At the very least, Robin Lehner's comments to the New York Post Tuesday before the Islanders traveled to Raleigh for Game 3 reflect the great amount of confidence the Islanders maintain despite trailing 2-0 in their second-round series against Carolina.

"It's not a big deal. We're just going to go down there and win," Lehner told The Post.

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Carolina Hurricanes, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner
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Trotz ready for critical game 3 00:00:42
Ahead of Game 3 on the road, Barry Trotz and the Isles aren't panicked.

There was a lot of talk about reality by the Islanders Sunday after Game 2 in Brooklyn. There was Barry Trotz, whose players generally carry the same poise he presents behind the bench, talking about how his team played a fairly complete game.

"That's the cruel reality sometimes is that you play really well and you don't get the result," he said.

Then there was Robin Lehner, the outstanding goaltender who summed up the game in this way: "We're not going to put excuses on hitting posts and bars and stuff, but the reality is I think we were the better team, and they just scored one more than us."

Tags: Brock Nelson, Carolina Hurricanes, Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin, Robin Lehner
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New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee shoots against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney in front of Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce and Islanders center Brock Nelson during the third period of Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee shoots against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney in front of Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce and Islanders center Brock Nelson during the third period of Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

It changed in a matter of moments for the Islanders Sunday afternoon.

The Islanders entered the third period of Game 2 with a one-goal lead, but in the first 65 seconds of the final frame, the game was flipped upside down when the Hurricanes lit the lamp twice and stormed to a 2-1 victory

Warren Foegele wired a wrister from a sharp angle just 17 seconds into the third period, and then former Islander Nino Niederreiter redirected a puck past Robin Lehner 48 seconds later to give the Hurricanes a one-goal advantage they would never relinquish.

"It's pretty simple, we played our game for close to 59 minutes," Islanders captain Anders Lee said. "Credit to them for popping two and holding us at the end."

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Carolina Hurricanes, Josh Bailey, Leo Komarov, Robin Lehner
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Apr 26, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) and defenseman Nick Led (2) defend the net as Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams (14) skates with the puck during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports (Catalina Fragoso)
Apr 26, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) and defenseman Nick Led (2) defend the net as Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams (14) skates with the puck during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports (Catalina Fragoso)

The Islanders were locked in a scoreless duel that stretched into overtime, but they fell to the Hurricanes at home Friday night, 1-0, in Game 1 of the second round. >> Box score

Five Takeaways from Friday's game

1) Jordan Staal scored the game's only goal 4:04 into overtime to give the Hurricanes the win and hand the Isles their first loss of the postseason. Nino Niederreiter had a bank pass off the end boards around the net to Staal, whose shot went off Robin Lehner's left skate as he was trying to close the post and went in.

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock
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New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and center Valtteri Filppula high-five after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and center Valtteri Filppula high-five after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

After waiting for more than a week, the Islanders finally found out late Wednesday night that they'll play the Hurricanes -- the Bunch of Jerks -- in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And because Carolina upset Washington in Game 7 on the road, the first road win by a team in the series, the Isles will get home-ice advantage in the second round, with Game 1 in Brooklyn on Friday night.

Will the well-rested Islanders be rusty Friday night having not played since last Tuesday? Or will they be able to pounce on a Hurricanes squad tired and beat up after a grueling seven-game series?

Let's take a look at how the Islanders and Hurricanes match up heading into the second round of the postseason.

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, Carolina Hurricanes, Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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Lehner continues dominant play 00:00:48
Robin Lehner's play was outstanding against the Penguins. Can he keep it up, former NHL player Patrick Sharp gives his opinion.

Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner turned his life around, getting sober after abusing alcohol and drugs, and then turned his career around. His outstanding season led to Lehner becoming one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

He followed that up with a terrific first round as the Isles swept the Penguins in the first round. NBC Sports analyst Patrick Sharp, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks, breaks down Lehner's play and a potential goalie matchup against either Washington's Braden Holtby or Carolina's Petr Mrazek.

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes, Robin Lehner, Washington Capitals
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Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The NHL announced on Friday that Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner is one of the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." 

In September, Lehner revealed in a piece for The Athletic that he had been addicted to drugs and alcohol and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. On April 6, Lehner wrote in a note posted on his Twitter account that he'd been sober for one year.

Tags: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

Barry Trotz had something to say upon being presented his Stanley Cup ring in November, addressing the Washington squad he had helmed to the franchise's long-awaited first championship the previous spring.

"You can do it again," Trotz told Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in the visiting locker room at Barclays Center. "You'll have to go through the (effing) Island, OK? But you guys can do it again."

No one is scoffing anymore at that middle zing, no one should be snickering anymore at this woebegone franchise, which has proven dramatically what a little adult supervision, accountability, actual on-ice structure -- and a bought-in rallying point concerning a departed superstar -- can do in implementing the longest of overdue culture changes and fostering immediate results.

Tags: John Tavares, Robin Lehner
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Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) congratulates right wing Leo Komarov (left) on his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. New York won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) congratulates right wing Leo Komarov (left) on his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. New York won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The Islanders completed the opening round sweep of the Penguins in a 3-1 road victory to move onto the next stage in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night. >> Box score

Six Takeaways from Tuesday's game

1) Facing elimination on their home ice, the Penguins got off on the board in a hurry to kick off the game. Jake Guentzel opened up the scoring with assists from Sidney Crosby and Jared McCann in the first 35 seconds of this one. 

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Robin Lehner
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Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) congratulates right wing Leo Komarov (left) on his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. New York won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) congratulates right wing Leo Komarov (left) on his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. New York won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The New York Islanders are in position to usher Pittsburgh out of the playoffs with barely a squeak from the Penguins.

The Islanders can complete a four-game sweep in their first-round playoff series with a win Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

It that's a surprise -- Pittsburgh was widely picked to win the series despite finishing one spot and three points behind the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division -- it shouldn't be, argued New York goaltender Robin Lehner.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Robin Lehner
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Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) reacts with right wing Josh Bailey (12) after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Apr 14, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) reacts with right wing Josh Bailey (12) after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The Islanders took a commanding 3-0 series lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday following a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh. >> Box score

Six Takeaways from Sunday's game

1. The 3-0 series lead guarantees little, but it's certainly a comfortable spot to be in for the Isles. Only four NHL teams have overcome a 3-0 deficit in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. The most recent team to accomplish the feat were the Kings during the first round in 2014, and Los Angeles went on to defeat the Ranger in the Stanley Cup that year. 

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Leo Komarov, Robin Lehner
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Apr 12, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the third period of game two of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 12, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the third period of game two of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

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.

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Pittsburgh Penguins, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock
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Apr 12, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of game two of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Apr 12, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of game two of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

This is everything the Islanders could have hoped for.

They made a charge at the end of the season to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the NHL playoffs, and they've made it count. They used two third-period goals to take Game 2 from the Penguins Friday night, 3-1, in front of a raucous Coliseum crowd and take a 2-0 series lead into Sunday's Game 3 in Pittsburgh.

The Islanders have their first 2-0 lead in a series since 1983, when they won their fourth straight Stanley Cup. 

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Pittsburgh Penguins, Robin Lehner
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Dec 10, 2018; Uniondale, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) exchanges words with New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 10, 2018; Uniondale, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) exchanges words with New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

As expected, Robin Lehner is likely the Islanders' starting goalie for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Penguins Wednesday night at the Coliseum. Per reports, Thomas Greiss was the only goalie participating in the Isles' optional morning skate, an indication that Lehner will start.

Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin didn't partake in Pittsburgh's optional skate. He's considered a game-time decision along with Zach Aston-Reese, meaning Pittsburgh's lineup is subject to change.

However, based on practice reports from Tuesday, here are the projected lineups for Game 1.

Islanders

Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins, Robin Lehner
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Islanders talk ahead of playoffs 00:01:12
New York Islanders clinched home ice against the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anders Lee knows fans will rock the Nassau Coliseum

The Penguins have their longtime stars and the championship pedigree, but the Islanders have been up for every challenge this season, and what they may lack in individual talent is made up for in commitment and chemistry.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the Islanders and Penguins match up heading into the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

FORWARDS

Tags: Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Nick Leddy, Pittsburgh Penguins, Robin Lehner, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Greiss, Tom Kuhnhackl, Valtteri Filppula
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This wasn't supposed to happen again at the old barn. April 25, 2015 was it for the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum -- although fans hoped it wouldn't be after the Isles defeated Washington to force a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs before bowing out of the tournament, out of the barn, out of Long Island.

But against all odds, the biggest, loudest party on the Island is back Wednesday night, and everyone paying money to take part should drink it all in, because it is a deserved reward for the Islanders after the season they've had, the one that nobody saw coming.

Playoff games anywhere, let alone at the Coliseum, seemed like the wildest of dreams once captain John Tavares departed. Nobody would've believed any bit of the path to this moment, Game 1 on Hempstead Turnpike, if it was told back in 2015...

Tags: John Tavares, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

This has been a special year for Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, and not just because he has helped lead the team back to the playoffs with a 25-13-5 record in net this season. 

The 27-year-old goalie, who was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed this season, marked the end of a career-best year for him on Sunday by also celebrating the one-year anniversary of his sobriety. 

The Islanders goalie reflected on his journey in a tweet, preceded with the caption, "anything is possible with this group."

Tags: Robin Lehner
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Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) prepares for a faceoff in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center Valtteri Filppula (51) prepares for a faceoff in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

The Islanders practiced Wednesday morning before heading to Florida for their penultimate game of the regular season, and there was a piece of encouraging news regarding their center depth.

Valtteri Filppula returned to practice for the first time since suffering what he revealed was a hyperextended elbow on March 19. The next day he was ruled out for four weeks, but he told NHL.com's Brian Compton that he could be ready for Game 1 of the first round last week. Barry Trotz also didn't rule Filppula out for Game 1.

Tags: Robin Lehner, Valtteri Filppula
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Apr 1, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) screens New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Apr 1, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) screens New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

The atmosphere wasn't quite as rabid as it was for John Tavares' first return to the Coliseum, but Isles fans of course were none too happy to see their former captain score his first goal against his former club as the Isles fell to the Leafs Monday night, 2-1, in their final home game of the regular season. Tavares' goal ended up being the game-winner.

Worse for the Isles is they failed to capitalize on an opportunity to close the gap on Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead as the Capitals lost to the Panthers. The Isles remain three points back with two to play. Robin Lehner made 16 of his 36 saves in the first period. >> Box score


First period:

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Tags: John Tavares, Robin Lehner, Toronto Maple Leafs
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Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Robin Lehner is going to help 7-year-old Jack Foley check the last box off his wish list.

Jack's story went viral on Sunday when his mother Lauren shared a video on her Twitter account of Jack holding a checklist, with "survive 3 open heart surgeries" and "defy the odds & play ice hockey" already checked off. The last item on the list is "receive a stick from Robin Lehner.

"Hi Mr. Lehner. I'll be at tomorrow's game at the barn. Hopefully you'll see me and my poster and you'll help me complete my checklist. Thanks," Jack says in the video.

Tags: Robin Lehner
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Mar 30, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the goal by New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 30, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate the goal by New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

The Islanders and their fans had every reason to revel in this moment.

For this isn't some ho-hum achievement, not for a team which missed the playoffs for two seasons after winning a round in 2016 and saw its star player and captain John Tavares leave in free agency, leaving everybody wondering how the Isles would pick up the pieces.

Nine months later, here the Islanders stand with an 'X' next to their name in the standings, punching their ticket to the playoffs at the Coliseum Saturday night with a 5-1 win over a Sabres team which represented the ideal opponent to face in such a clinching scenario, a woeful club offering little resistance. This is the first time the Islanders have clinched a playoff spot in March since 1990, and it's their first time clinching a berth at home in 17 years.

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Mathew Barzal, Matt Martin, Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres
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Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) makes a save against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Robin Lehner is back in form, and his upturn is coming at the perfect time for the Islanders.

There was a palpable sense of dread from Islanders fans after the team was shut out in consecutive games last week against Boston and Montreal while giving up nine goals across the two losses. Though this surprising campaign has allowed for dreams of a playoff run, despite Lou Lamoriello standing pat at the trade deadline, suddenly there was worry that the Isles would limp into the postseason before crashing and burning in the first round.

The Islanders desperately needed a big weekend with a back-to-back on tap, and Lehner helped them pull off two victories by making 22 saves in Saturday's 4-2 win in Philadelphia before notching a 31-save shutout on Sunday against the Coyotes.

Tags: Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 24, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

There wasn't a ton of offense in this one, and for the Islanders, there didn't need to be in order to escape on the right side of the result. The Isles, behind Jordan Eberle's first-period goal, shut out the Coyotes, 2-0, on Sunday. 

Brock Nelson added an insurance goal late in the third, and goaltender Robin Lehner stonewalled Arizona for 60 minutes, stopping all 31 shots he faced. The Islanders kept pace with the Capitals, who also won Sunday and remain one point ahead for first place in the Metropolitan Division. >> Box score


First period:

Tags: Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Robin Lehner
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Mar 21, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) replaces teammate Thomas Greiss (1) during the second period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)
Mar 21, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) replaces teammate Thomas Greiss (1) during the second period of the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Bolte)

Over the last two games, the Islanders haven't played like a team that's worthy of winning a division crown. They were shut out for the second consecutive game Thursday, losing in Montreal 4-0, and remain three points behind Washington as both teams now have eight games remaining. 

Thomas Greiss was pulled at 8:19 of the second period after allowing four goals on 22 shots. Robin Lehner stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief while Carey Price stopped all 28 of the Islanders' shots. According to the New York Post, the Islanders were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 19-21, 2011.

The Isles' power-play struggles continued as they went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage. >> Box score

Tags: Montreal Canadiens, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

The New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens both improved their precarious positions in the Eastern Conference playoff race with wins in their most recent games.

But the work has just begun for the two teams, who will face off in another pivotal game Thursday night, when New York hosts Montreal at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders (40-22-7, 87 points) have been off since Monday, when they beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-0. The Canadiens (37-26-7, 81) last played Tuesday, when they hosted and edged the Detroit Red Wings, 3-1.

Tags: Anders Lee, Montreal Canadiens, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner returned to practice Wednesday, eight days after being bowled over by Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk. Lehner, who missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, is a "possibility" to return to goal against the Canadiens Thursday night at the Coliseum, Barry Trotz told reporters.

Trotz had to speak with Lehner and the training staff before making a decision. If Lehner doesn't return Thursday, he could return during the Islanders' weekend back-to-back at Detroit and Minnesota.

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Johnny Boychuk, Montreal Canadiens, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

This Islanders season has already been far better than anyone within or outside the organization could have imagined. In the wake of John Tavares' departure, the Isles have bought into Barry Trotz's style and Lou Lamoriello's shrewd signing of Robin Lehner has paid major dividends. Lehner appears to be in a good place after battling substance addiction and a bipolar diagnosis, and he's been stellar on the ice as part of a goaltending duo with Thomas Greiss.

Lamoriello made the controversial decision not to make any acquisitions at the NHL trade deadline, and it wasn't looking like a smart move when the Isles went through some recent stumbles. The Isles rebounded with two straight wins against the basement-dwelling Senators, putting them back in a tie with Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead and eight points clear of ninth place in the Eastern Conference. But Trotz conceded after Thursday's win that his team is "still scuffling a little bit."

There's plenty of work to do over the final month of the regular season if the Islanders want to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2015-16, and they'll have to step their game up against better competition.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Michael dal Colle, Nick Leddy, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) stops a shot by Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot (72) during the shootout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) stops a shot by Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot (72) during the shootout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Both the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators got what they wanted out of their game against each other Tuesday night. But each team will be looking for even more Thursday night, when Ottawa hosts New York in the back end of a home-and-home set.

The Islanders earned a 5-4 shootout win at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, when they squandered a two-goal third-period lead and survived an injury to starting goalie Robin Lehner but escaped with the victory after Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal scored on the team's only attempts in the shootout.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Ottawa Senators, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In a sign that Robin Lehner won't be healthy for Thursday's game after being run over Tuesday night by Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk, the Islanders recalled goalie Christopher Gibson from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis.

Lehner, who's been a steal on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, left Tuesday's shootout win late in the third period and was replaced by Thomas Greiss. Lehner ostensibly has a head injury but the Islanders had no update on Lehner's status on Wednesday, according to Newsday.

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The slumping Islanders edged out the Senators for a shootout victory on Tuesday, but it may have come at a cost. 

Islanders starting goalie Robin Lehner had to leave the game late in the third period after Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk bulldozed over him on a controversial game-tying goal. 

Lehner skated off the ice on his own but was presumed to be undergoing tests for a concussion, per Brett Cyrgalis of The Post. 

Tags: Brock Nelson, Robin Lehner
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Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

With the Islanders badly needing a win after losing their lead in the Metropolitan Division, their lineup is completely up in the air thanks to a flu bug that is running through their locker room. The only thing that seems certain for the Isles' home game against Ottawa is that Robin Lehner will start in goal.

"Sickness hit us on Sunday. We had some guys that had to go to the locker room. Quite frankly I don't even know the lineup right now," Barry Trotz said, per the team's Twitter account. "We've got a plethora of things going on. I probably won't know our lineup until game time tonight."

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Josh Ho-Sang, Matt Martin, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner
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