By Joe Nuzzo
In what could have been, and still could be, the final game played by the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the team defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Saturday night.
The victory forces a game seven Monday night in Washington to determine which team will move on to the Eastern Conference finals. If the Islanders fail to move on to the next round of the playoffs, at least they would have finished up their final home game with a victory before they move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.
“Basically, it was the season on the line for us” Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak said. “They came out hard and played well. We need the same Monday night. It’s going to be hard, but we all know why we’re here.”
So did the Islander fans in attendance often chanting “Can You Hear Us” at deafening levels. The chant, clearly in response to a comment made to the press by Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, who said last week that fans in the Verizon Center were louder than those at the coliseum.
Islanders defenseman Brian Strait commented on the support the Islanders received from their fans at the coliseum this afternoon stating “The fans were rocking the place.”
John Tavares opened up the scoring at the 6:57 mark of the first period on a pass by Ryan Strome. Tavares put a wrist shot by Washington goaltender Branden Holtby. Then, Washington’s John Carlson tied the game with just 4.3 seconds left in the first period.
It wasn’t until the 10:33 mark of the third that the Islanders took back the lead. Nikolay Kulemin took a feed from Nick Leddy and slipped the puck past Washington’s Braden Holtby.
The Islanders secured the victory with an empty net goal by Cal Clutterbuck with 53 seconds left in the third period.
Should the Islanders defeat the Capitals Monday night, the coliseum will be open for business a bit longer.
The Islanders would then face the Rangers in the conference finals. The first two games would take place at Madison Square Garden. The Islanders would then host games three, four and if needed six, at “The Old Barn.”