Islanders trail, 3-2, but revel in challenge


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The New York Islanders are on the ropes.

The Penguins return to Long Island with a series lead after a 4-0 win Thursday night in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

But the Islanders, who trail, 3-2, and began this postseason as big underdogs, have twice returned from deficit with wins in Game 2 and Game 4.

They view this challenge as no different.

"As I told the team, our backs have been against the wall before," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano with the same even temperament he has displayed for the past week. "We've been a resilient team and we'll come out and play hard in Game 6."

New York trailed, 3-0, in a span of 6:35 in the second period when Tyler Kennedy scored on a breakaway off of a perfect feed from Kris Letang.

Just 38 seconds later, goalie Evgeni Nabokov let Douglas Murray's soft wrister from the point elude him and it was 2-0 as the crowd erupted.

But the clincher came at 14:00 when Sidney Crosby stick-handled through two defensemen -- Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey -- on a feed from Jarome Iginla and lifted a slicing wrister past Nabokov to make it 3-0.

Letang added a power-play goal at 5:43 of the third to drive Nabokov from the net for a second time in this series.

"I just think we got away from our game for whatever reason," forward Colin McDonald said. "I don't have an explanation. ... We just have to forget about this. We're still in it. It's a best of three and we can win two in a row."

New York earned the No. 8 seed in the East with a strong finish to the regular season.

Despite doubts that they could hang with the depth and talent spread throughout the Penguins lineup, the Islanders pushed the series even with a Game 4 win that chased goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the net.

Their speed and physicality have tilted the ice in their favor for stretches in this series.

"We're kind of learning on the go here," said left winger Matt Martin before Game 5. "[For] most of the guys in this dressing room this is our first time so we're enjoying the ride. It's been a lot of fun. Obviously [the] first game was disappointing. We learned a lot from that game and we've responded well as the series has gone on."

Center John Tavares said a second-period lapse did his team in Thursday night.

"They played the way they usually like to play and I think a lot of that was us not being hard enough and not making it tough on them," Tavares said. "We got ourselves going, a decent start, much better than we had here in the past and then we got away from our game for a few minutes there and their transition took over. With the talent they have, they're lethal with that."

He said returning home to play in front of their fans at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum should be helpful.

"Yeah. We'll focus on playing much better. We weren't our best [Thursday night] and of course playing in front of our fans is always a big boost for us," he said.

NOTE -- Capuano said his team lost center Frans Nielsen midway through the game with a lower body injury.

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