Not many teams are going to win games with just 11 shots on goal, let alone a Game 7.
Yet that is what happened to the New York Islanders. They mustered only 11 shots and lost to the Washington Capitals, 2-1, in the seventh game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
That they were even in the game was a testament to goalie Jaroslav Halak. Despite the Capitals outshooting the Islanders through two periods, 21-7, it was only a 1-0 game thanks to Halak. Frans Nielsen scored early in the third period to tie it, but Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal with a little more than seven minutes left won it for the Caps.
Not only in Game 7 but at times throughout the series, the Islanders simply did not generate enough offense. And when they did, Washington goalie Braden Holtby turned them away. In the three games he won during the series (remember, he didn’t play in Game 2), the Islanders scored one goal in each of those games.
The Islanders power play was dreadful, going 0 for 14 in the series.
John Tavares had zero shots in Game 7. None. These are the moments when players of Tavares’ caliber are supposed to rise to the occasion. True, he scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 3 and had a goal and an assist in the Game 6 victory. But the rest of the series, he was not much of a factor.
This was the best Islanders campaign in years. Their 47 wins and 101 points during the regular season were the most since 1983-84.
However, the Islanders still have not won a playoff series in 22 years. They have now dropped eight straight since defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division final in 1993.
Losing Game 7 to the Capitals also brought an end to the Nassau Coliseum era for the Islanders. The team is leaving its home of 43 years and heading to Brooklyn next season.
So instead of moving on to meet the rival New York Rangers in the next round, the Islanders are left asking themselves “What If?” for the summer.