Good-bye Old Friend, you will be missed!
Saturday night, inside historic old Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders hosted the Rangers for one final time at The Old Barn and in the process clinched a playoff berth courtesy of their 3-0 victory that was fueled by Semyon Varlamov’s third consecutive shutout and fourth of the season against the Rangers; as well as by Anthony Beauvillier’s two-goal game.
However, regardless of the score, I’d like you all to think back to your fondest Islanders-Rangers memories at Nassau Coliseum (let’s forget about Barclays Center) and raise a glass in honor of the end of an era (for real this time).
Yes, technically there are two more regular-season games left at The Old Barn; plus however many playoff games, but nothing compares to the rivalry between these two New York teams. It’s been New York City vs. Long Island. Blueshirts vs. Nassaumen. The headlines could fill an entire volume of books.
Islanders fans will always remember October 27, 1973, as the night the Boys from Long Island beat the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum for the first time ever. The Isles went 0-3 against the Rangers at The Coliseum during their inaugural season (1972-73), so it was a monkey off their backs when they won their first matchup of the 1973-74 season, by a score of 3-2.
Heated brawls followed in the years to come as the rivalry between these teams escalated; especially as the Isles began to ascend to the top of the NHL.
And it wasn’t just during the regular-season that The Boys from Long Island had to face the Rangers at The Old Barn. There was the Semi-Finals sweep in 1980-81 that helped propel the Isles to their second-straight Stanley Cup championship. (We’ll try to forget about the upset in 1978-79).
The Division-Finals in 1981-82 was another happy Islanders memory and so too was their Division-Finals victory the following year in 1982-83. The 1983-84 Division Semi-Finals were also fun; especially when Ken Morrow scored the series-clinching goal in overtime in Game Five at The Coliseum.
Over the years, more fond memories followed, far too many to account for in this article. But you get the idea.
Hold on to those memories and make sure to bring them along next year to UBS Arena when the Islanders and Rangers continue their decades-long rivalry in the new Barn; or is it the new Bank?
As for this game…
The Islanders, feeding off the energy of the limited number of fans allowed in attendance, got off to a strong start and took it to the Rangers early and often. Eventually, noted Rangers-killer, Anthony Beauvillier scored at the 4:39 mark to give the Nassaumen an early 1-0 lead thanks to a beauty of a pass from Josh Bailey. For Beauvillier it was his 12th career goal against the Rangers in just 21 games.
With the momentum continuing to build for the Islanders throughout the period, Semyon Varlamov was hardly tested; except on one tough shot from pavel Buchnevich. However, Varlamov stopped Buchnevich to keep the Isles humming along. Not even a soft tripping penalty call against Kyle Palmieri could deter the Nassaumen as they shut down the Blueshirts potent power-play.
Moments later, in the waning minutes of the first period, Josh Bailey pushed the puck ahead to Mathew Barzal who broke in alone on Georgiev. Barzal went forehand to the backhand and beat Georgiev for the 2-0 Islanders lead.
That was enough for the first period as the Islanders controlled the play from the opening face-off to the final horn.
On to the second period and the Isles picked up right where they left off, by getting control of the puck and carrying it deep into the Rangers zone. Then, 1:02 into the period, Anthony Beauvillier fired a sharp angle shot towards Alexander Georgiev and the puck found the back of the net for the 3-0 Islanders lead — Beauvillier’s second of the night.
After their third goal, the Isles continued to buzz, as did Beauvillier, who registered a couple more quality chances against Georgiev as he searched for the hat-trick. And while he didn’t get the hat-trick in that moment, there was another notable achievement that did take place. Beauvillier’s teammate, Semyon Varlamov, eclipsed Chico Resch’s franchise record for the longest shutout streak in team history of 178:29.
Varlamov’s streak even survived another penalty-kill as the Islanders moved to two-for-two on the PK in the game after killing off a Casey Cizikas hooking penalty.
Shortly thereafter, the Islanders earned their first power-play of the game as Filip Chytil was called for holding Anthony Beauvillier. However, the Isles did not convert and the rest of the period went by without much to write home about.
With a 3-0 lead entering the third period, the Boys from Long Island were 20-minutes away from clinching a playoff berth for the third consecutive season.
The Islanders didn’t muster much in the way of offense in the third period; although, Jordan Eberle and Cal Clutterbuck each had a quality scoring chance that rang off one of the posts. And Anthony Beauvillier charged hard at the net a couple of times in search of the hat-trick, to no avail.
So, the clock ticked down with the Islanders leading 3-0 and eventually, the playoff dream became a reality as the Boys from Long Island won the game and earned a playoff berth for the third consecutive year.
As for the Islanders-Rangers rivalry, the Isles got a measure of revenge against their bitter rivals. In March 2014, in what was billed as the original farewell season to Nassau Coliseum, the Rangers bested the Islanders in what was supposed to be the final meeting between the teams at The Old Barn.
Now, courtesy of their 3-0 victory, the Islanders were able to wipe that blemish away and look forward to continuing this rivalry at UBS Arena in the Fall. But first, it’s on to the playoffs (with a handful of regular-season games left to still determine seeding).
The Isles went 0-for-1 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 25-for-136…The Isles went 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill to bring their season tally to 104-for-124…Josh Bailey registered three assists…Anthony Beauvillier’s two-goals give him 13-goals in 21 career games against the Rangers…Semyon Varlamov broke Chico Resch’s franchise shutout streak record of 178:29 and finished the game with his streak at 213:56. For Varlamov, it was his fourth shutout of the season against the Rangers and his NHL-Leading seventh of the season.
Monday May 3rd Islanders at Sabres at KeyBank Center at 7pm(EST).