The New York Islanders were hosting a playoff game on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time in six years in front of a sold out crowd that was salivating for the puck to finally drop. Unfortunately for the Isles, they fell to the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4 on a power play goal that came from forward Chris Kunitz just 8:44 into the extra frame.
Special teams would ultimately play the deciding factor in the game, as the Islanders penalty kill only went 2-5, surrendering two additional power play goals in the first period that allowed the Penguins to get into the hockey game.
The Isles came out of the gates with energy and intensity, racking up hits, shots and goals immediately. Within the first two minutes of the game, Matt Moulson would slam home a rebound after Kyle Okposo would get the first few initial chances. Lubomir Visnovsky would be credited with the second assist.
The New York Islanders kick of their final stretch of games for the 2013 season against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. The Isles play their last 5 games of the lockout-shortened season away from Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders head in to Toronto 1-0-1 against the Maple Leafs this season. After a huge 7-4 win over the Leafs back in January, the Isles lost 5-4 in overtime against Toronto in February, where Nazeem Kadri tallied his first NHL hat-trick for the Leafs.
Are the Islanders finally better than the Rangers? It has taken years to ask that question and not be mocked for sheer insanity or stupidity. With the resurgence of the Isles’ play and unexpected rise up the Eastern Conference standings, fans of the Islanders would answer with a resounding yes.
Supporters of the contrary would argue the results of the 2013 season series between the heated rivals. The Rangers bested the Islanders 3 out of 4 times. Aside from the first meeting of February 7th, where the lifeless Isles were drubbed 4-1 at MSG, each game has been close.
The games were so close that, in reality each contest could have went to either side. Who could forget Saturday’s epic battle that saw the Isles fall in overtime? Fans of the orange and blue wanted to blame the referees but after the loss settled, it became evident that they just had a better goaltender. Henrik Lundqvist, when on, is the best goalie in the NHL.
When the horn sounded at the end of the third period at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night, Islanders fans rejoiced as their home squad defeated the visiting Florida Panthers 5-2. The Isles skaters removed their jerseys and signed them for the lucky fans who won them as a prize at the end of the game.
Typically, this is a moment at the end of the Islanders season filled with "better luck next year's" and "thanks for supporting us as we rebuild our team." But instead, this time, fans were salivating for more as the Islanders continued to tighten their grasp on their first playoff berth in six years.
"Everyone's been telling me how loud this arena can be," said Matt Martin...
For those that grew up during the great cup runs in the 80's and the "epic" playoff battles that took place in the 90's, fans already know how loud the Nassau Coliseum can get.
But for fans like myself, who were either not born or old enough to appreciate what was taking place on the ice in Long Island at that time, there is only the first round elimination series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002 that truly proves merit to the Coliseum's nickname, the "Madhouse off the Meadowbrook."
The Islanders will kick off 4-game home stand tonight when they take on the Ottawa Senators for the third and final time this season. After a difficult 3-1 loss to the Sens back in February, the Isles took the most recent matchup with a pair of stellar shootout goals by the likes of Frans Nielsen and John Tavares.
So far this month, the Isles are 5-1-1, which has currently placed them 3 points out of the 8th and last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have also improved on their dreadful home record, going 3-0-2 in their last 5 games at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders and their fans will need to shake off Thursday's heart breaking loss to the NY Rangers in OT. The two points that a victory would have brought meant so much. The team would have been in an 8th place playoff spot, but that was not to be.
The penalty called against Michael Grabner only 21 seconds into OT put the nail in the coffin for the Isles. The team was so incensed, and the players and coaching staff really let the ice officials know it, in no uncertain terms..well maybe some certain terms...(photo credit:THFANBLOG/flickr)
Any Islanders fan that has been at the Coliseum in the past couple of years will be able to support everything I am about to say.
It takes more than a house to make a home and the 2013 NHL season on Long Island continues to prove that.
Somehow, someway fans of every other team get their hands on boat loads of tickets creating an environment that wipes out home ice advantage.
This epidemic has been obvious in almost every home game this year. Every team from near and far, will fill the Nassau Coliseum with their loyalties and jerseys. The Devils, Flyers, Bruins and Leafs have all taken over the Coliseum recently.
How embarrassing was it for fans to watch hats rain from the ceiling when Toronto's Kadri netted his third goal to complete a hat trick on Thursday?
The Islanders (6-7-1) look to build on their 2 game winning streak when Philadelphia (6-9-1) skates into the Nassau Coliseum for a President's Day matinee. Is there a better way to honor the great American presidents than pitting Philadelphia against New York?
After looking lost for 5 games and losing in an assortment of ways, the Isles have returned to relevance. The fans have taken their hand off of the panic button. Over the past two games, the Islanders have looked like a different team.
After coming out flat in Thursday's game against the Rangers, the Isles looked set on making their losing streak hit 6. Falling behind 2-0, in enemy territory, against a talented Ranger team, the game looked hopeless. But during the first intermission, something happened behind closed doors.