Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
The doors will close forever at the Nassau Coliseum eventually, but the Islanders did their part to ensure that Saturday wasn’t that day.
The Islanders — down three defenseman due to injury — defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 to even the opening round series of the Stanley Cup playoffs at 3 and force a Game 7 in Washington D.C. Nikolay Kulemin scored the game-winner at 10:33 of the third period off a whacky set of circumstance that led to the Islander forward getting an 1-on-1 chance.
John Tavares entered the zone and tried to split two defenders, but the puck got sent into the corner. The Islanders’ captain went in to try to play the puck and was steamrolled by Alexander Ovechkin and was down on the ice. While the focus was on Tavares, the puck squirted to Nick Leddy, who fed Kulemin all alone in front of the net.
“Once I stepped on [the ice] I realized we were going to have a really good opportunity,” Colin McDonald, who was on the ice for the game-winner, said. “I was just trying to get to the net. I didn’t even see Johnny, I’m not sure how he got the puck to Leddy. I knew [Kulemin] had quite a bit of time and he made a heck of a play.” To read more of this story, click here
Recap: The Islanders sent the first-round Eastern Conference series back to Washington for Game 7 Monday (time TBA).
Need to know: With the score tied at 1, the Islanders’ Nikolay Kulemin scored his first playoff goal with 9:27 left in the third period on assists by John Tavares and Nick Leddy. . .Cal Clutterbuck clinched it with an empty-net goal with 52.6 seconds left.
Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 6:57 into the game but was in the penalty box when the Caps’ John Carlson tied it with 4.5 seconds left in the first.
Tavares was called for slashing with 37 seconds left in the period, almost a minute after the Isles had killed off their second penalty of the first. . .The Caps outshot the Islanders 16-9 in the first.
The Islanders had a 15-9 advantange in the chippy second period but failed to capitalize on several good chances. . .Defenseman Matt Donovan took a 10-minute misconduct with 1:36 left in the period in his playoff debut. Donovan was replacing Griffin Reinhardt, who struggled in Game 5 playing for Calvin de Haan.
The Isles’ Jaroslav Halak had 38 saves; Braden Holtby had 37 for Washington.
Links: AP recap | Box Score
What’s Next: Game 7 is Monday in Washington (time TBA). The winner plays the Rangers in the second round; the Islanders must win to continue their Nassau Coliseum tenancy.
The Islanders host the Washington Capitals in (potentially) the last hockey game to be played at Nassau Coliseum. NBC will have the broadcast. WRHU 88.7 FM and LI News Radio 103.9 FM will carry the radio feed.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
The Islanders are trying to stave off elimination this afternoon, when the Capitals visit Nassau Coliseum for Game 6 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Head coach Jack Capuano will make a few lineup changes for the critical game. Matt Donovan will play on the team’s banged up blue line, and Ryan Pulock or Scott Mayfield will also enter the lineup. Calvin de Haan, who left Thursday’s game in the third period, will be scratched and Griffin Reinhart will also sit.
Donovan has been a healthy scratch for most of the season. “He’s been with us all year and he’s worked hard,” Capuano said. “He’s going to go for us, for sure, and most likely you’re going to see Mayfield or Pulock on the other side.”
The Islanders enter the afternoon game without de Haan, as well as Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky. The Capitals appeared to take advantage of the dilapidated defensive unit the Islanders had in Game 5.
Capuano says the Islanders need their forwards to step up and keep the pressure off the defenseman.
“Our forwards really need to take responsibility and make sure we don’t turn pucks over,” he said. “Make them come 200 feet — we have some veteran forwards in the lineup tonight — and they need to take the game over. They have to alleviate some of the pressure on our end for our defensemen that are playing tonight.”
The Nassau Coliseum crowd will certainly be emotionally charged for Game 6, not only hoping to keep the series alive, but also to keep hope their will be more hockey played in the building.
Howie Rose, who has served as the television voice of the Islanders for 20 years, is not hiding his anger over the franchise leaving Long Island (Berman, April 25).
“All that stuff, I just get angry, I’m pissed off they’re leaving,’’ said Rose, a Nassau County resident. “I’m not happy about it in the least. I’m not yet in the process of trying to make sense of it in a historical standpoint that creates wistfulness. My blood boils thinking about them leaving. Sorry if I don’t have any flowery prose.’’
The Islanders trail their series with the Washington Capitals 3-2. If they are unable to comeback and win game 6 (home) and 7 (away), tonight will be the final game ever played in the Coliseum.
“The Islanders should’ve been on Long Island for freaking forever’’ Rose said. “This has nothing to do with Brooklyn – I hope they have eternal success there.’’
The National Hockey League, Nassau County, and Nassau Coliseum are working with one another to beef up security for Game 6 on Saturday, when the Islanders host the Washington Capitals (Newsday, Apr. 24).
The increased security comes in the wake of alleged incidents of Islanders fans mistreating Capitals fans during Game 3 and reports that fans stole seats from the building.
Nassau County Police have already said they will be adding additional uniformed and plain clothes officers around the arena, along with officers on horseback.
“The fact of the matter is you’re going to have incidents you wish you didn’t have, and you’re going to have to respond to them,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “I think the Islanders have done it appropriately and our security people have been working with the building and Nassau County to make sure inappropriate conduct is both discouraged and dealt with, if necessary.”
Game 6 of the series will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the Islanders on the brink of elimination.
Planning on skipping Game Six because you assume the Islanders will be back in Nassau one day? You may want to re-think that.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Forest City Ratner’s plan for the Islanders to play regular season games in the renovated Coliseum has not yet been approved, and that any talk of it is premature until a new arena is in place. (Baumbach, Apr 24)
Bettman says he doesn’t want to give anyone in Nassau County hope of an Islanders return when it may end up being false hope.
“What’s real about what’s being talked about,” the commissioner openly asked to reporters. “I’m not going to speculate. It’s unfortunate that it got to this point.” (Spector, Apr 24)
Additionally, Bettman would neither confirm or deny that the Islanders have an opt-out of the Barclays Center lease after five years.
I’m glad the commissioner came out and said this, because I feel like some Islanders fans are looking at the move as something temporary. You shouldn’t. There’s nothing to indicate that the Islanders are coming back to play in the new Coliseum, other than a developer’s plans.
I know that there has been some noise about the fact that the renovated building can have the capacity brought up to around 16,000, and some are taking that as an indication that the Isles will come home again. But now you’ve heard directly from the horse’s mouth that the Islanders may not be back for any amount of games, six, 41, or otherwise.
Instead, embrace Game Six as potentially the final game at the Old Barn. If you’ll be in the building, cheer your face off to try to inspire the team to somehow, some way, get back to the Coliseum for Game Three of the second round. Brooklyn is a certainty, and a return to Nassau isn’t, so let’s not go out without a fight.
I still remember 2002 fondly. It was the year the Islanders, a glorified dumpster fire for much of the late ’90’s and early 2000’s reemerged onto the hockey scene. And the way their season ended is echoing in my mind this morning. Why? Because this series with the Capitals reminds me so much of that ’02 team’s dance with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Looking back, that season will always be something special. To say the Islanders were a downtrodden franchise would be an understatement. When the team underwent a draft day overhaul for the ages, the Coliseum was brought back to life. en route to the club’s first playoff appearance in seven years. Respectability returned to Long Island.
The modern day route the current Isles took to success, while a more genuine rebuild than a Milstein and Gluckstern fire sale, had a similar path. There have been the trying moments — whether it was Jose Theodore’s goal in January 2001 or the six-man pile up of 2013 — followed by exalted releases, from finally clinching a playoff spot to every YES chant from October ’til now.
It all has led to a clash with all the same dynamics as April 2002, whether an unlikely blood rivalry has emerged, the building is rocking, and the fan base is energized. We’ve seen our fair share of chippy behavior from the Capitals, as Tom Wilson’s hit hearkens back to Darcy Tucker changing the course of Michael Peca’s career with a dirty check. There were late-game heroics at the Coliseum — Shawn Bates with his Game Four penalty shot back then, John Tavares’ OT winner in Game Three now. And, of course, there was disappointment. The Isles lost that series in seven to Toronto, and the Islanders are now a loss away from elimination after Thursday night’s defeat.
But this morning, on the precipice of elimination, there is more reason to be optimistic than in 2002.
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