For the Islanders to bounce back from their game one defeat, for them to get the series knotted and bring it back to a raucous Nassau Coliseum for game three, for them to find a way to win last night, it was going to take everything and everyone. And truth be told, it basically did.
From man one to man 20, the Isles earned their game two win over the Boston Bruins on Monday night. The entire team laid it all out there to ensure they didn’t allow the Bruins to take a 2-0 series lead, even after they fell behind less than three minutes in and blew a 3-1 lead in the third.
Because of that, they were rewarded.
The one who got the overtime game-winner has been widely considered the most hard-working of them all during his tenure as an Islander: Casey Cizikas.
Cizikas has a classic “Zeeker” performance in game two with a goal, five shots, six hits and going over 60% on draws.
His winner on its own was the coup de grace.
CASEY CIZIKAS! 🚨
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 1, 2021
A moment like that for Cizikas — his Islander moment — has been a long time coming and couldn’t have been any more deserving. He hadn’t scored a postseason in over six years, his last goal coming in game four of the first-round series against Washington in 2015. That Capitals team was coached by Barry Trotz, who since arriving on Long Island three years ago has praised and lauded Cizikas for his play and what he means to the organization.
“There’s no one who has bigger character in our dressing room and is more loved than Casey,” said head coach Barry Trotz after the victory. “He gives everything he’s got shift in and shift out. A total team guy. For him to score a goal like that, I guarantee you when he came in, our room exploded with guys hugging him. Everybody is a hero in our room. Casey is one of those guys who does everything for us.”
Over the last ten years, no matter what the score says, Cizikas has always left it all out there on the ice. That’s what has gained him the reputation as the heartbeat of the organization as one-third a part of the club’s “Identity Line” with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Islanders’ fans have also had the pleasure of getting to see this on a nightly basis which has made him one of the biggest post-dynasty fan favorites. Cizikas is maybe one of the select few who have donned the Islander crest who has been given nothing but respect and admiration.
“It takes everyone. Zee, I’m so happy for him, he deserves it,” said long-time teammate Josh Bailey.
The Islanders getting such a huge boost from Cizikas could prove to be a turning point, not just in the series but for him individually. He’s been solid thus far in the postseason but had yet to find the back of the net. In this series, he’s also had the task of going toe-to-toe with Boston’s superstar center Patrice Bergeron, to which he’s held his own. That ability to hang with Bergeron just goes back to Cizikas’ nature of giving his all.
Cizikas will give that same effort for the rest of this series, that’s not in question. That relentlessness has been his DNA for his whole career. His goal Monday was a culmination of his work ethic.
The Isles now come home with a split and a chance to take a 2-1 series lead on Thursday night. They are in that position because of Cizikas, whose moment resulted out of doing what he does best, leaving everything out on the ice.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_