Islanders Need to Give UBS Arena it’s Coliseum Moment

In the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal, the New York Islanders trailed 2-0 in Game 6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning but battled back to force overtime. Then came Anthony Beauvillier’s game-winning goal, the highlight of his Islanders’ career and the final iconic moment in Nassau Coliseum. The team lost the series in seven games, but the lasting memory of that series was Beauvillier closing out the Coliseum on a high note.

New York Islanders Anthony Beauvillier Nassau Coliseum
New York Islanders celebrate after an overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Game 6 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals, Nassau Coliseum, June 23, 2021 (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nassau Coliseum gave Islanders fans all of their fondest memories since being built in 1972. The venue was the host to the dynasty of the 1980s, from Bob Nystrom’s goal that sealed the 1980 title to the 1983 sweep of the Edmonton Oilers. Even recently, the Coliseum carried a mystique to it, and the Islanders always played better there, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, boasting an 88-44 record at home.

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Now, the Islanders have a new home, with UBS Arena hosting home games since the start of the 2021-22 season. It’s not the same as Nassau Coliseum, which was a barn from the glory days that would shake in the playoffs, and it doesn’t have the history. That said, UBS Arena can have a defining moment, with Game 6 of the First Round being a pivotal moment in the series. UBS Arena is a new state-of-the-art venue, and a big win in the arena can kickstart a new era in franchise history.

Islanders Have Made the First Round Close

The Islanders looked poised for an early playoff exit against the Carolina Hurricanes. They lost the first two games and Game 4 in blowout fashion with a 5-2 defeat. Facing elimination, they stepped up on the road and put together their best performance of the series, winning Game 5 by a 3-2 score in a contest where they never trailed.

Ilya Sorokin returned to form, saving 34 of the 36 shots he faced, and proved he could put together another two lights-out performances to will the Islanders to a series victory. Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri have all scored two goals in this series and can find their scoring touch in the upcoming game as well. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech have stepped up defensively and helped keep this series low-scoring and eliminate the Hurricanes’ offense.

Ilya Sorokin New York Islanders
Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Islanders can do so in Game 6 and in style. A dominant win will give them all the momentum heading into a winner-take-all game, which will be Sunday, April 30, if necessary. A close, nail-biting victory that ends with a thrilling goal or in dramatic fashion can have even greater ramifications. Not only would a thrilling game even up the series, but it would provide UBS Arena with its first signature moment. It would finally make the new venue feel like home to the Islanders and continue the legacy that started in Nassau Coliseum.

Hurricanes Urgency to End the Series

The Hurricanes, by all means possible, want to avoid a Game 7. This series was theirs for the taking and one that they have controlled for the most part. Game 3 was a hiccup as they allowed four goals in the final four minutes to lose 5-1, while Game 5 was multiple rough bounces in a 3-2 defeat. But otherwise, they’ve been in control. A loss in Game 6 would change that. They would head back home, where they have won nine of their last 11 playoff games, for the final game of the series, but they will be on the ropes after consecutive defeats.

As a result, the Hurricanes will put together their best performance of the series in the upcoming game with hopes of closing things out. Moreover, nothing would make them happier than silencing the crowd at UBS Arena. The Hurricanes want the first impression of the new Islanders venue to be one of silence and disappointment, the opposite of what the Coliseum was.

The Hurricanes don’t want to be a part of a signature moment in recent Islanders’ history. From a blowout defeat to a game-winning goal that sends the crowd into a frenzy, they don’t want to be on the losing end of it. In recent years, Islanders fans have witnessed the Josh Bailey overtime-winning goal that won Game 1 of the 2019 First Round and the Beauvillier overtime goal, one that closed out the Coliseum. The Hurricanes don’t want to be the next suspect of a significant moment.

Credit to the Hurricanes, they’ve had the Islanders number, especially recently. They swept them in the Second Round of the 2019 playoffs and have an 8-4 record in the past two seasons (playoffs included) against their Metropolitan Division opponent. The Islanders, however, hope to add the Hurricanes to the list of teams they’ve terrorized on playoff runs, a list that includes the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, and many other Eastern Conference teams. That would start with a Game 6 win and then an upset in Game 7 to advance and pull off the series upset.

Who Can Provide That Iconic Islanders Moment?

The first thought is that the big moment will come from one of the stars. Nelson led the team with 36 goals this season, and a big game from him could be in the works. Barzal is hitting his stride at the right time and is starting to emerge as a shooter, making him the skater that can put the team over the top in Game 6 and this series. Bo Horvat was acquired during the All-Star Break to be an elite goal scorer, and despite struggling in the First Round, scoring only one goal and one assist, he can finally make his mark in this series.

Then again, the Islanders can see an under-the-radar player become the hero, the same way Bailey and Beauvillier were with their iconic goals. Zach Parise can put his final stamp on a remarkable career with a big goal. Palmieri and Pierre Engvall stepped up in Game 5 and could be the sharpshooters that make a difference in the upcoming game. Regardless of who steps up, the Islanders need someone to give the home crowd a moment that can be remembered for years to come.

Zach Parise New York Islanders
Zach Parise, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Throughout the history of the game, teams have moved out of their iconic arenas and into new and improved venues, and it wouldn’t feel right oftentimes. The Montreal Canadiens moved out of the Montreal Forum in 1996 and into Bell Centre, where they haven’t won a Cup since. The Toronto Maple Leafs played at Maple Leaf Gardens until 1999 but have yet to win a playoff series in their new arena Scotiabank Arena. The Detroit Red Wings haven’t reached the playoffs since moving out of Joe Louis Arena in 2017.

There are two things that make a new arena a team’s true home: winning and notable moments. The Boston Bruins moved into TD Garden in 1996 and have won one Stanley Cup title while appearing in two more. The Chicago Blackhawks made United Center their home by snapping a 49-year Cup drought and winning three titles in six years. Nassau Coliseum was home to the Islanders’ dynasty, but success will make UBS Arena feel like a second home.

The Islanders’ ownership has waited years for a moment like this. They built a new arena with the hope that it would host many playoff games with significant moments. Now, the players have to do their part in Game 6 on April 28.

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