The Islanders did what they had to do and at the very least closed out Nassau Coliseum with a win.
The 3-1 decision that forces a Game 7 on Monday gave the fans one final memory in the Old Barn.
“It’s a special place, I think,” Captain John Tavares said. “There’s such a connection with the community, with the team. The team grew up here. It’s been here for over 40 years. Obviously, great players and people that have been a part of this. Coming down Hempstead Turnpike and calling this home, and having a major professional team, for me it’s become home. You certainly fall in love with it. You certainly enjoy playing in that building. There’s no atmosphere like it.
Islander fans are an interesting breed in the New York area. They may complain about their home arena, but look back at fondly, realizing that next year will be much different when the team is in Brooklyn.
Ironically, the Isles on Long Island were more like the Dodgers in Brooklyn with a connection with the community. Unlike every other team in the area, the Islander fan base is concentrated in Nassau County, almost like a small town club than a big market franchise.
But next year, it will be different as the team looks to expand its foothold. Hoping to take a page from the Nets, the Isles hope that there will be a new fan base coming from Brooklyn and Queens, while also holding onto the new commuters from Nassau and Suffolk.
It’s should make for a stronger franchise, but at the same time, take away some of the culture that the team built over the past 43 seasons.
However, the Coliseum still has some life. Even with the injuries to their defense and despite the poor coaching in this series by Jack Capuano, there is a decent chance, they can advance to play the Rangers in the second round.
Washington has a terrible record in Game 7s, with them 3-9 overall and 2-7 at home. Since 2008 they sported a 1-4 record. And frankly on paper the Islanders are the better team.
The Caps seem confident, but they know their history.
“The three games [at Nassau Coliseum] were fantastic,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “We are going to need our fans to do what the Islanders fans did. Bring it, help us along, and help us through Game 7.”
The Isles proved they could go into Washington and win a game after soundly beating the Caps in Game 1. Yet, this is a young team that never won a playoff series, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to the pressure.
Said Tavares: “We wanted to make sure we gave ourselves a chance to come back here and reward [the fans] for everything they’ve given us and that there’s another one and a chance to move on. So we got that Game 7. It’s going to be obviously a tough game . . .”
But to win the Cup, you have to take the tough games.
And if they win, the reward will be the President’s Trophy winning New York Rangers, who will be well rested for the next round after finishing off the Penguins in five.
Some Islander fans may not want to see that matchup, but many are chomping at the bit to take back some of New York for themselves.
Or at least give the Old Barn – as it’s called these days – a couple of more memories before it closes.