TORONTO, April 20 (UPI) -- Curtis Joseph stopped 31 shots for his 13th career playoff shutout and Alyn McCauley snapped a scoreless tie early in the third period Saturday as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the New York Islanders, 2-0, for a two games to none lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
The Islanders returned to the playoffs after an eight-year absence and made no secret of their desire to face Toronto -- and not lower-seeded Carolina -- in the first round. But goals have been hard to come by against Joseph, who missed all but one game over the final six weeks of the season due to a broken hand.
"I never knew that," Maple Leafs left wing Shayne Corson said of New York's preference to face his team. "If they really want to play us, that's good for them. We didn't care who we played."
Making his 100th career post-season start, Joseph made 10 saves in each of the first two periods and 11 in the third to extend his shutout streak to 114 minutes, three seconds. He opened last year's conference quarterfinals with back-to-back shutouts of Ottawa.
"They turned it up another notch, for sure," Joseph said. "They were skating and playing on all cylinders and I thought we rose to the challenge. We played good defensively."
"He's hot right now," New York left wing Shawn Bates said. "But it's the first team to four and that's what we are looking at. It's unbelievable. They have to be happy with the way he has been playing. I like what we're doing, getting shots on net. Sooner or later, they've got to go in."
Blanked since the first period of Game 1, the Islanders had a spectacular chance to tie it with 52 seconds to go in the third period. But Joseph denied Mark Parrish from just above the crease.
"You don't get any better chances than that to score in this league and I didn't take advantage of that," said Parrish, who had a career-best 30 goals during the season. "It was a great pass from Bates. He did his job, I just didn't do my job and bury it."
"He did have a lot of time," Joseph said. "He took a look."
Chris Osgood dueled Joseph for two periods and finished with 24 saves for New York, which hosts Game 3 Tuesday night.
"Playoffs are about the unlikely guy coming up big. Teams that win Stanley Cups have those guys rise at the right moments," Islanders captain Michael Peca said. "They've been fortunate twice. We had some great chances, Curtis just made the big save after save right to the end."
The unlikely hero for the Maple Leafs was McCauley, who failed to register a point in his first 16 career playoff games and had gone 15 games and five weeks since his last goal.
Just over three minutes into the final period, Tie Domi threw the puck out of the right corner. Osgood made an acrobatic stop on Mats Sundin's point-blank shot but could not cover the puck and McCauley tapped it in for his first career playoff goal.
"Tie made a great pass to Mats. It was an exceptional play," McCauley said. "Probably a lot of people didn't expect Tie to score the winner in the first game and set up the winner in the second. He's been playing great."
"I thought both goaltenders played well to this point," Islanders coach Peter Laviolette said. "They picked up a rebound goal. (Osgood) made a stop on the play by Sundin. We had the coverage and didn't get the stick tied up and McCauley batted it in the net."
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with seven seconds left.
New York had a 10-9 edge in shots and the better of the play in the first period. It had a great chance early when Alexei Yashin got free down low on a two on one, but shot wide of the right goalpost. The Islanders' leading scorer during the season, Yashin has gone 12 games since his last postseason goal.
"It was a pass that I didn't think would get through, and it got through," Yashin said. "Thank goodness it was rolling because he was one-timing it."