Islanders Eliminated But Future Looks Bright
Extending the life of Nassau Coliseum and the chance to continue competing for a Stanley Cup were on the line in the nation’s capital but the Islanders could not find the magic that helped guide their franchise to four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980’s. The Washington Capitals defeated the New York Islanders 2-1 and will face the New York Rangers in the Second Round of the NHL Playoffs.
The referees astonishingly called a penalty with less than three minutes remaining after missing countless calls in regulation, to give the Islanders 0-13 inept power play one more opportunity. But even with everything hanging in the balance they could not find a way to keep their season and precious building alive.
Special teams can often be the difference in a series and while the Islanders penalty kill was tremendous the power play was disastrous posting a goose egg in the First Round.
In any elimination game, you need every player to give every ounce of energy he has and simply put the Islanders did not play with enough desperation needed to advance in the tournament. They were only able to generate 11 total shots, four of which came in the final frame. The bottom line is that 11 shots are simply not enough in a deciding game.
Despite being outshot and outplayed the Islanders were clinging to a scoreless game until the Capitals relentless attack finally got one. Joel Ward’s shot managed to trickle past Jaroslav Halak with only 1:25 remaining in the second period.
However, the resilient Islanders would not exit without a battle as Frans Nielsen sent a trickling shot of his own past the Washington net minder, Braden Holtby, early in the third period to silence the crowd at the Verizon Center.
A Russian forward not named Alex Ovechkin was able to score the series-deciding goal with 7:18 remaining in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov showed a remarkable amount of patience – especially for a young player-- and waited until he found the right opening to beat Halak.
In the words of Howie Rose on the MSG Network telecast, “time has run out not only on the Islanders but on Nassau Coliseum as well.”
The Islanders gave their fans an enjoyable final ride – considering recent years – and Nassau County was able to host three playoff games. The “Old Barn” got to witness overtime winners, blossoming young talent and the YES!, YES!, YES! chant.
As hard as it is to digest at the moment there are a lot of elements to look forward to. The talented, young roster gained much needed, valuable playoff experience, had the opportunity to play in two elimination games and faced adversity at every turn
While the Coliseum will close its doors, the Islanders franchise will certainly not. They will be moving to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn with the promise of what could be the next elite franchise in the NHL.