In the most important game that the organization has played in over 20 years, the New York Islanders stepped into the bright of Brooklyn and delivered. Topping the Florida Panthers 2-1 in a double overtime thriller, the Isles captured game 6 and now advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1993.
With just over a minute remaining in a scoreless first period, Jonathan Huberdeau put the Panthers on the board with a spin move and slap shot combo that got past goaltender Thomas Greiss. From that point in the game, the Isles were trailing throughout the majority of the contest.
Following a second period with no goals, captain John Tavares answered the call when his teammates needed him the most. On the heels of desperation, at 19:06 in the third period, the captain grabbed a rebound off of a Robert Lungo save and scored a goal with just over a minute remaining. Pandemonium ensued. And while the Barclays Center has hosted Nets playoff games, main event fights, and concerts from the Rolling Stones to Bruce Sprigsteen to Jay-Z and Memphis Beek, the arena was never buzzing like this. Facing defeat and looking at yet another trip for a game seven matchup down in south Florida, the Isles refused to be denied.
After the first overtime, the Isles knew who the man was that was going to step into the clutch and take them home. Who else, but captain John Tavares?
At 10:41 into the second OT, Tavares grabbed yet another missed shot from a Lungo save, took the puck, wrapped around the goal and snuck in a game winning shot. The heroics of John Tavares were front and center and the crowd was amped.
For the Isles, winning this first round series serves as classic redemption for last year. Both fans and players remember their gut wrenching game seven loss to Washington last season. Not only did that game end the season for the Isles, but it was the last game played at the Nassau Coliseum, putting a heartbreaking finish to the end of an era.
Now it is time for this Isles team to move on. Literally. And they will be heading back to Florida, but not for a game seven against the Panthers. Instead, the Isles will head to the central part of the sunshine for a second round showdown against the Tampa Bay Lightning. After losing in the Stanley Cup finals last year to Chicago, the Lightning will be looking to strike for their own redemption.
For now though, it is time for all of Brooklyn, Long Island and the rest of the metropolitan area to celebrate. The draught is over and the Isles are not looking back.
Game 1 will take place in Tampa and the second round will be released later this afternoon.