The New York Islanders’ played a rare sold-out playoff game Sunday at Nassau Coliseum—their first since 2007—filling the arena with fans feverishly rooting for their team’s first Stanley Cup since 1983.
Before the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-1 series lead with a 5-4 win, a sea of blue and orange flooded the Uniondale parking lot—tailgating parties fueled partly by Cinco de Mayo and die-hards soaking up their team’s last local home games until the Isle’s impending move to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn in 2015, maybe sooner.
“MVP!” fans chanted for John Tavares, the Isles’ center and alternate captain who led the rebound from a 2-goal deficit to tie it up at 4-4 with his first career post-season goal before the game went into overtime.
“It takes four to win,” Islanders Coach Jack Capuano told reporters at a news conference Monday. “We’re confident we will come out and play a strong game tomorrow.”
The Islanders’ last post-season series win was 20 years ago—also against their longtime rivals, the Penguins, in game seven. Isles’ faithful can be forgiven if they weren’t too sympathetic to Knicks’ fans that saw their team win its first post-season series win in 13 years on Friday.
Adding to the spectacle Sunday was the fact that the NHL lockout forced a hockey season so short that May is typically when third-round playoff games are scheduled. And just days prior, four groups of developers—one of which included Jay-Z—pitched Nassau leaders their plans to refurbish and/or rebuild the 40-year-old arena.
Playoff fever breaks out at the coliseum again when the puck drops 7 p.m. Tuesday.