Following a Game 1 rout in which the Isles were easily dispatched 5-0, they rebounded with a win in Game 2 and a strong performance in Game 3, despite falling in overtime.
But it's not just about their ability to compete with the top-seeded Penguins. The Islanders truly believe they can pull off the upset.
"We know we can beat them," second-line center Frans Nielsen said. "We want this to go as far as possible. This series, too, we've felt they have a lot of guys on their team that can't skate with us. So we want this one to go to seven, because we want to get [it] as tough as possible."
According to Nielsen, speed has been the Islanders' biggest advantage.
"I think when we're moving our feet, they've got guys up front, on the [defense] that we can see are struggling a little bit," Nielsen said. "We've gotta skate with 'em. If we stop skating, we don't have a chance."
Even Sidney Crosby admitted the Islanders have created problems for the Penguins with their transition game and opportunistic style of play.
Pittsburgh enjoys the distinct advantage on special teams, but the Islanders have been solid at even strength.
"They've probably carried the play a little bit more," Crosby said. "They've had a little more zone time, I think. They're coming hard, but I think we've hurt ourselves with turnovers. ... I think that something we can definitely improve on."
The Penguins have adopted a playoff policy of declining to answer injury or lineup questions. That goes for coach Dan Bylsma and the players themselves.
Neither Orpik nor Neal committed to a return, though all indications are that both players are close.
Neal, who practiced with the team's first power-play unit during the skate, said he doesn't expect to be eased back into it, whenever he returns. The 25-year-old winger was forced from Game 1 with a lower-body injury and has not played since.
"It's playoffs," Neal said. "I'm not going to go back in unless I can help the team out and play my best."
Orpik could do nothing to help his team while watching from the press box during the nail-biter of a finish in Game 3, an experience he described as "the most nervous" he has ever been. The veteran defenseman suffered a lower-body injury during the last week of the regular season and has yet to make an appearance in the 2013 playoffs.
"At this time of year, you want to heal as quick as possible," Orpik said. "It never heals as quickly as you want it to, but you just try to be patient with it. That's tough."