28-Years! That’s how long it’s been since the Islanders last clinched a berth in the Third-Round of the playoffs in front of their hometown fans. 1993 was a special year. It came out of nowhere and has been the focus of late. Yes, the Boys from Long Island advanced to the third-round of the playoffs last year, but they did it inside the bubble in Toronto where no fans were allowed.
That all changed on Wednesday night June 9, 2021. In an emphatic 6-2 victory over the Bruins, the Nassaumen did what they hadn’t done in almost three-decades. And the fan base was there to celebrate as only the Isles Faithful could.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 of 25 shots while getting six-goals worth of offensive support from: Travis Zajac; Brock Nelson (x2); Kyle Palmieri; Cal Clutterbuck (ENG); and Ryan Pulock (ENG).
The feeling around the team, the arena and the fans was something special and that was true even hours before puck drop. Out in the parking lot at Nassau Coliseum the feeling was in the air. It was a feeling of Destiny. And that feeling was reinforced when the fans joined Anthem Singer Nicole Raviv in her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Even inside Borrelli’s, just down the road from The Coliseum, the fans were singing in unison at the top of their lungs.
Then came the opening face-off and the jeers towards Tuukka Rask rained down from all corners of The Old Barn. Rask, of course, was removed prior to the start of the third period in Game Five due to a lingering injury issue, so he wasn’t at his best as Game Six got underway.
The Bruins were also without Curtis Lazar, Brandon Carlo and others, so they were short-handed in this do-or-die game and that just strengthened the feeling that this would be the Islanders’ night.
Then, 8:52 into the game, Travis Zajac scored to put the Islanders up 1-0 and the decibel level inside The Coliseum and inside Borrelli’s went through the roof.
Not even a penalty to Anthony Beauvillier for tripping Charlie McAvoy could dampen the spirit of the team and the fans. However, a Casey Cizikas tripping penalty against Taylor Hall moments later did cause some concern as Brad Marchand used the man-advantage to his benefit and tied the game 1-1 at the 17:36 mark of the first period.
That’s where the score stood when the second period began and within a span of just under 11-minutes — from the 5:20 mark of the second period to the 16:07 mark — the Islanders retook control of the game and built a lead they never relinquished as they scored three goals: two from Brock Nelson and one from Kyle Palmieri.
With a 4-1 lead in hand as the third period began, it was just a matter of time until the Islanders were celebrating like it was 1993. But first, Marchand scored another power-play goal at 5:38 of the third period to bring Boston within 4-2 and make some inside The Coliseum think that this game wasn’t over just yet.
News Flash, it was. And empty-net goals from Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Pulock sealed it with under a minute to go in the game.
With their 6-2 victory officially in the books, the Islanders now turn their attention to their rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And you can bet the fans will bring their energy during each and every game as they and the Isles attempt to go back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984.