Hockey

NY ISLANDERS: Twice In A Lifetime, Islanders Say Good-Bye to Nassau Coliseum (Regular-Season Edition) in 5-1 Victory Over Devils Saturday Night By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

October 7, 1972 — April 11, 2015 and December 1, 2018 — May 8, 2021.

If you’re an Islanders fan, you know the significance of those dates. If you don’t, then listen up. 

On October 7, 1972, the Boys from Long Island played their first ever regular-season game at Nassau Coliseum against the Atlanta Flames. The Nassaumen lost that game 3-2. April 11, 2015, the Islanders said farewell to The Old Barn — or so they thought — and lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 in the final scheduled regular-season game at The Coliseum.

The Islanders were never supposed to return to Nassau. Barclays Center in Brooklyn was supposed to be their new home. But the digs in Brooklyn didn’t mesh well with the Islanders (as well as the Isles fans) and so, the team’s ownership eventually got the Belmont Project in motion and now UBS Arena will open next season. And during the interim, they were allowed to return to Nassau Coliseum for one more prolonged good-bye.

December 1, 2018, was the team’s triumphant return to The Old Barn as the Boys from Long Island bested the Blue Jackets 3-2. Now, just under two-and-a-half years since returning to Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders will once say farewell once and for all to their beloved home (at least for the regular-season).

So, on Saturday night May 8, 2021, the Isles gave The Old Barn one last fitting good-bye as they beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 thanks to excellent performances by Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Mathew Barzal and Ilya Sorokin.

The game opened with the Islanders playing better than they had in weeks as the team looked re-invigorated early against New Jersey. They ran up the shots counter to a 12-4 advantage and even though the team was unable to score on its power-play opportunity (are you really surprised?) it continued to build momentum.

As the period wound down, Mathew Barzal made sure the Nassaumen would not squander their momentum as he carried the puck through the neutral zone and gained entry to New Jersey’s. Barzal crossed over to the middle of the ice and dished the puck to Jordan Eberle, who was left unguarded thanks to the attention Barzal drew. Eberle took the puck and sent it straight to the “Toy Department” for the 1-0 Islanders lead at the 18:01 mark of the period.

It was a very solid period for the Boys from Long Island and they looked to carry that over into period number two.

However, the second period began with a flurry of penalties as the Islanders were just starting a power-play, courtesy of Michael McLeod high-sticking Jordan Eberle, when Mathew Barzal was called for tripping Nico Hischier six-seconds into the man-advantage.

The Isles and Devils played four-aside for 50-seconds before Casey Cizikas was called for boarding Yegor Sharangovich to put the Boys from Long Island at an even further disadvantage. However, the Nassaumen skillfully killed off both penalties and managed to get back to playing at even-strength. 

Unfortunately, Andreas Johnsson then took advantage of a large gap in the Isles defense, who were busy puck-watching. Johnsson skated in deep and fired a shot past Ilya Sorokin to tie the game at 1-1 just 4:58 into the second period.

The second period then continued to be The Penalty Period as Will Butcher hooked Matt Martin behind the Devils’ net and the Isles went back to the power-play for the third time in the game.

This time, the Isles managed to cash in as Oliver Wahlstrom got the puck towards the net and MacKenzie Blackwood was unable to handle the shot. Brock Nelson was waiting right in front of Blackwood and once he saw the loose puck, banged it home to put the Nassaumen back in front, 2-1.

For once, the Islanders were playing some good hockey in the second period of a game and it soon got even better. Anthony Beauvillier intercepted the puck at center ice and charged into New Jersey’s zone before firing a shot at Blackwood. Once again, Blackwood was unable to control the rebound and Brock Nelson (who else?) was waiting at the doorstep to once again clean up the loose puck; 3-1 Islanders. 

That was it for the action in the second period and then there was just 20-minutes of regulation time left in the regular-season career of Nassau Coliseum.

The third period began much the way the second one did; with plenty of action.

First came a beautiful goal by Kyle Palmieri, who finished off a feed from Oliver Wahlstrom with as dandy a move as you’ll see to make it 4-1 Islanders. And then, seconds later, Mathew Barzal went up ice two-on-one with Jordan Eberle after Leo Komarov chipped the puck to his linemates. Barzal carried, looked off the pass and wired the puck past Blackwood for the 5-1 lead just 4:09 into the third period.

As weird as it feels to say this, that was all for the third period. Yes, there will still be at least two playoff games played inside Nassau Coliseum (with the potential for more depending on how far the Isles go) and certainly being limited to just 1,400 fans didn’t help things. But it just felt weird for the regular-season career of Nassau Coliseum to come to an end without much happening on the ice.

Perhaps that’s a good thing though. The Islanders are at their best when they are playing an understated style of hockey and tonight’s third period certainly qualifies. So, the Isles won 5-1 and will now head to Boston for their regular-season finale on Monday night before starting the playoffs several days later.

GAME NOTES:

The Isles went 1-for-3 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 26-for-143…The Isles went 2-for-2 on the penalty-kill to bring their season tally to 110-for-131…Jordan Eberle, Leo Komarov and Andy Greene tagged back in while Cal Clutterbuck took a seat along with Ross Johnston and Braydon Coburn…Happy Birthday Matt Martin…Longtime NHL Linesman, Tony Sericolo worked the final regular-season game of his career and went out with a nice big round number: 1,500.

NEXT GAME:

Monday May 10th Islanders at Bruins at TD Garden at 7pm(EST).

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