With the current suspension of the 2019-20 NHL season, the New York Islanders’ run at the Barclays Center seems to be officially over. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all games next season will be played at the Coliseum before the team’s brand-new Belmont Arena will open for the 2021-22 season.
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While most hockey fans around the league will remember the Barclays Center for the poor ice conditions as well as the off-centered scoreboard and obstructed seats, the Islanders had much success playing in Brooklyn. They had lost only one game in regulation all year during the 2019-20 season and went 88-48-24 all-time. Here’s a look at the five most memorable games in Brooklyn:
5. Islanders vs. Rangers (11-15-18)
Many New York Ranger fans would laugh at the fact that the Islanders had two different home arenas. However, the Rangers went 1-6-1 in Brooklyn and witnessed Anthony Beauvillier’s first NHL hat-trick back on Nov. 15, 2018. The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead in the contest, but Beauvillier scored his first goal of the night on a tip on a shot from Thomas Hickey.
Brock Nelson tied the game up on a redirection from Nick Leddy as the two teams combined for four goals in the opening frame. Beauvillier then started the second period with his second tally of the night on a breakaway and completed the hat-trick on the power play to respond to the Rangers tying goal earlier in the period.
From then, the Islanders opened up a 6-3 lead as both Anders Lee and Leo Komarov scored goals. Despite a late rally from the Rangers, Cal Clutterbuck scored an empty-net goal with 39.5 seconds to give the Islanders another win against their crosstown rivals.
4. Islanders vs. Penguins (11-30-16)
It is a rare occurrence when the Islanders get a chance to play on national television – they’ve had only a pair of Wednesday Night Rivalry games since the 2016-17 season, and one of those games was a classic. Facing the reigning Stanley Cup champions in the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 30, 2016, the Islanders made a statement by opening up a 3-0 lead.
Johnny Boychuk unloaded a blast from the blue line for the first goal of the game. Jason Chimera and Casey Cizikas scored the next two goals, but the Penguins rallied for three third period goals from Connor Sheary, Justin Schultz, and Evgeni Malkin. However, with 30 seconds in regulation, Hickey let go of a shot that Lee tipped home to give the Islanders a 4-3 lead. Then three seconds later, Nikolay Kulemin hit the empty net, which ranked second all-time for the fastest two goals in NHL history as the Islanders won 5-3 over the Penguins.
3. Islanders vs. Red Wings (2-9-18)
The greatest regular-season win at Barclays Center came against the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 9, 2018. In what was an uninspiring performance from New York against one of the weaker teams in the NHL, the Islanders faced a 5-2 deficit late in the third period. Jordan Eberle scored in the second, and Brock Nelson had one early in the third for the only two goals to that point for New York. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak also entered the game for the final 10 minutes after Thomas Greiss allowed his fifth goal of the game on 32 shots.
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It all changed, though, when Tyler Bertuzzi of the Red Wings inexplicably took a five-minute major penalty for two handing Cal Clutterbuck at 13:27 of the final frame. It was all Islanders from there as Nelson scored the first goal on the man-advantage to cut the deficit to two. Lee then put home a rebound less than a minute later, and Nick Leddy tied the game at five from a shot from the point with just under two minutes left on the penalty. Then somehow, the Islanders, who can go months without scoring four power-play goals, scored again when John Tavares set up Josh Bailey to give New York their first lead of the night.
However, as they have done so often in the past decade, the Isles allowed Detroit to tie the game with the extra attacker, sending the contest into overtime. Then in the 3-on-3, Mat Barzal rushed out of the defensive zone, started a 2-on-1 break, and made an incredible saucer pass to Nelson, who scored his third of the game to give the Islanders an astonishing win 7-6 win.
2. Islanders vs. Panthers Round 1 Game 3 (4-17-16)
After the Islanders and Florida Panthers split their opening two games in the Sunshine State, New York returned to Brooklyn on April 17, 2016. The Islanders fell into an early hole until Ryan Pulock opened the scoring with a 5-on-3 goal to cut the Panthers lead to 2-1 after head coach Jack Capuano and his video team challenged an offside goal that would have made it 3-0.
Later in the game, after the Panthers regained their two-goal lead, the Islanders came back once again as Pulock set up Shane Prince to make it 3-2. Then, Frans Nielsen scored on his patented backhand on the power play to force Game 3 into overtime.
After a relatively quiet opening couple of minutes overtime, Thomas Greiss made a couple of big saves to keep the Islanders alive. Then after the Islanders were able to work it into the corner, Nelson centered to Hickey for the game-winning goal.
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Hickey, who is more of a bottom pair defenseman, has had quite a knack of scoring overtime goals. He scored his first NHL goal in overtime, as well as one to lock the Islanders into the playoffs in 2016. Of his 23 career goals, six of them have come in overtime.
1. Islanders vs Panthers Round 1 Game (4-24-16)
Many people want to forget the name, but longtime Islanders’ captain John Tavares provided a memory that many fans aged 20 or younger never saw in their lifetimes. Not only did Tavares tie the game with under a minute left in regulation, but he also scored in double overtime to give the Islanders their first playoff series win in 23.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored the first goal of the game to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead on one of his nine shots on goal in the game. While it gets forgotten with how the game ended, Leddy saved an empty-net goal blocking Aaron Ekblad’s shot late in the third period. Leddy then set up Tavares’ first goal of the game with 54 seconds left in regulation as Kulemin assisted on Tavares’ tap-in-goal.
Then with 10:11 left in the second overtime, Kyle Okposo set up Tavares for a wrist shot from the faceoff dot. After Roberto Luongo kicked his leg out, Tavares wrapped in the game-winning goal to give the Islanders a 2-1 win and advance them in a series where they scored three overtime goals.
The Islanders hope they can make many more special moments if their season is to resume this season. However, it looks like the Barclays Center will go back to just holding the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA. With a very solid core in place, the Islanders hope the added stability of playing in just one arena can help them as they look for their fifth Stanley Cup.
Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor degree in journalism. Originally from Long Island, he moved to Parkland shortly after high school. Matt worked as the assistant sports editor for his school paper, eaglenews.com in college becoming just one of nine students in his graduation class to serve over 1,000 community service hours. His goal is to travel to every Major League Baseball stadium, and has been to multiple US Open finals.