The last time the Islanders played the Capitals in a Game 7, it lasted four overtimes.
Dubbed the ‘Easter Epic,’ which took place on April 18. 1987, the Islanders captured that Patrick Division Semifinal series when Pat LaFontaine scored 8:47 into the fourth overtime period to decide the longest Game 7 in NHL history.
The winners next round opponent, the Rangers, probably don’t care who wins, buy would enjoy seeing another four overtime game, while the Islanders want to see the same results with the match ending at a more reasonable hour.
“These are the kinds of games, you see them on TV every playoff and you wish to be a part of them,” Franz Nielsen said. “I think it’s a lot of excitement in this room right now. You can feel it that something big is going to happen tomorrow.”
This is the first Game 7 of the playoffs and for many of the Islanders, the first in their careers. The team does have some experience to lean on with Johnny Boychuk playing in his eighth, Nick Leddy in his fourth and Jaro Halak suiting up for his third. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin have also played in one.
“We’ll lean on those guys,” coach Jack Capuano said, “but we’re also going to lean on the guys who have been here a long time.”
The last Game 7 the Islanders played in was 1993, which is also the last time they won a series. That was against the Penguins but now they are looking to write a new chapter in their history.
If they are going to win, the Isles will need a strong performance from Halak, who came up big in Game 6, allowing just one goal, after being shell-shocked for five red light tallies in Game 5.
“I’m very confident,” Capuano said of his goalie, who had 38 saves in Game 6 on Saturday. “He’s been there before, he knows what it takes. No question he’ll probably be our best player.”
And that’s good for the Islanders, who will need every player to be at his best if they are going to advance to play their arch rivals in the next round.
One thing’s for certain, it may not last four overtimes, but it will be epic.