The New York Islanders pushed themselves through three difficult rounds against some of the NHL’s top teams in their postseason run. They knocked out the Pittsburgh Penguins who led the East Division during the regular season and then they took out the big bad Boston Bruins.
When it came to facing the Tampa Bay Lightning, revenge was on the table for what had occurred in the Toronto bubble last season. Being knocked out in Game 6 in the third round was not something that the team wanted to face again. Fighting through six games in the semifinal rematch, they managed to push a Game 7 in hopes they could secure the win and be able to play for the Stanley Cup in the final round. Unfortunately, their journey ended there Friday night as they fell 1-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
To say the loss was difficult is an understatement.
Many felt defeated, the coaches, the players, and the fans included. People like to say that there’s always next season, but forget that — the Isles have some older players, some whose time in the NHL is running out, dwindling the Isles’ chances of returning. There’s also the possibility that some players are going to be traded, and the team we saw yesterday may not be the same team come October.
“Sucks getting back to this point and fall short again. You got guys like Bails and Greener, veteran guys you know. I got a few more years, but you want to win for those guys. Hurts seeing those guys in the locker room afterward knowing how close we were,” Mathew Barzal said in his post-game interview.
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Looking at how far the Islanders came this postseason is incredible. Facing Pittsburgh, they were pitted to lose. And against Boston, they were given a 20.1% chance of winning. They overcame the odds against both of those teams and gave the defending Stanley Cup Champions a run for their money in the third round
“I think we were the underdogs in this series, trailed, came back. We were the underdog in the second series, same thing. Underdogs in the third series and we almost got it done so,” said Coach Barry Trotz.
Sure there were bad games for them in the mix. No one really expects the team to lose Game 5 8-0 in a Conference Final. However, they pulled off some memorable wins, including some at Nassau Coliseum that fans surely won’t forget.
Anthony Beauvillier scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 6 to prevent the Bolts from advancing on the Isles’ home ice. They even scored three unanswered goals to push them to overtime after falling 2-0 in the first half of the game.
“This group is special, their character, their will, their work ethic, to me it’s undeniable, it’s so strong and it’s probably why this group believed that we could do this, they still believe we could,” said Coach Trotz, “It’s still a lot of pain because they gave their all.”
There was no quit in this team and they presented that every time they stepped out onto the ice. With the emotion of Game 7 weighing on all the players once the final horn sounded and through the post-game interviews, you could tell they fought with their all, and this loss was an emotional one for the Islanders.
“It’s not our time, we will be back here next year,” Barzal stated.
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