As the New York Islanders seem to have finally established themselves as a regular playoff team, this past decade has had some memorable postseason games.
They were able to win two playoff series, which they had not done since 1993. They advanced with wins over the Florida Panthers in 2016 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019.
Let’s take a look back at the five most memorable postseason games of this decade.
5. Islanders vs Penguins Round 1, Game 4 (May 6, 2013)
As the Islanders trailed 2-1 in the series against the Penguins back in 2013, New York had their first home playoff win since Game 6 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2002.
In the first period, former Penguin Brian Strait scored his first career playoff goal to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. The two teams traded goals until the Penguins took their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Kyle Okposo scored to even the game 3-3 heading into the third period. Once again, the Penguins took a lead 41 seconds into the third from Pascal Dupuis, but the Islanders responded with Mark Streit’s second goal of the night, and soon after, Brad Boyes set up John Tavares for the deciding goal midway through the third. Casey Cizikas added a late goal on a soft one let in by Marc-Andre Fleury, forcing the Penguins to switch to Tomas Vokoun for the rest of the series.
The game ended with Evgeni Malkin extremely frustrated and trying to fight the Islanders, but Travis Hamonic was there to intervene. The longtime Islanders defender wasn’t one that dropped the gloves often but would stand up to protect his teammate. The moment showed that New York was not going to back down to a superior team.
The Islanders went on to lose the series in six games, as Brook’s Orpik scored his first goal of the season in overtime to advance Pittsburgh to Round 2.
4. Islanders vs. Lightning Round 2, Game 1 (April 27, 2016)
Looking back at this decade, this was the only playoff win the Islanders had in Round 2 of the postseason. After upsetting the Panthers in Round 1, the Islanders continued their Sunshine State tour with a matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Early on, the Lightning jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. However, the Islanders scored three-straight goals in the first, with one coming from Hamonic and two from Shane Prince.
The lead expanded to three as Tavares scored his sixth postseason goal on the power play, which turned out to be the game-winner. Despite the Lightning scoring twice in the third period, Cal Clutterbuck put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal with 55 seconds remaining in the game to give the Islanders a 1-0 series lead.
New York dropped Game 2 and had chances in both Games 3 and 4, but both the games went into overtime with the Lightning coming out on top. They would eventually go on to win the series in five games to eliminate the Islanders.
3. Islanders vs. Capitals Round 1, Game 3 (April 19, 2015)
While it was just Round 1 and it did not lead to a playoff series win, the Islanders captain gave the team a memorable win in overtime against their future head coach in Barry Trotz.
After the Islanders split the opening two games on the road versus the Washington Capitals, the team returned home for an afternoon game on Long Island for Game 3. In what was a low scoring game, Okposo and Nicklas Backstrom had the lone regulation goals for their respective teams.
As the two teams headed to overtime, it took only 15 seconds for Tavares to put home a Nick Leddy rebound from the side of the net to give the Islanders a 2-1 series lead for his first career playoff overtime goal electrifying the sold-out crowd.
However, in Game 4, it was Backstrom evening up the series with an overtime goal. The two teams split Games 5 and 6 before the Capitals pulled out a tight 2-1 win in Game 7.
2. Islanders vs. Penguins Round 1, Game 1 (April 10, 2019)
With the Islanders returning to Long Island for their first-round series against the Penguins at the Coliseum, there was plenty of buzz throughout the series. The Islanders started the series off with a little overtime magic against the Penguins.
This was the Islanders’ first season without Tavares. The Toronto native decided to stay at home and sign with the Maple Leafs.
Moments after Tom Kuhnhackl’s goal was disallowed for an offside call, Jordan Eberle made it count to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead. The Penguins were able to respond to every Islanders goal, as both Brock Nelson and Leddy scored to give New York a brief lead. The game eventually ended up going to overtime tied 3-3.
Quickly into overtime, Mathew Barzal came in on a 2-on-1 with Josh Bailey. Barzal’s shot initially hit the post, but Bailey was there to put home the game-winning goal to help the Islanders win Game 1 and eventually complete the impressive four-game sweep.
1. Islanders vs. Panthers Round 1, Game 6 (April 25, 2016)
It had been 23 years since the Islanders’ last playoff series win, but New York had a chance to move on to Round 2 in Game 6 against the Panthers in 2016. The two teams traded wins each of the first four games of the series, highlighted by a Thomas Hickey overtime goal in Game 4. The Islanders would then take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven with a goal from Alan Quine in the second overtime.
In a relatively low scoring game, the Panthers were able to strike first on a goal by Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers came within minutes of sending the series back to Sunrise for Game 7, but Tavares was able to tie the game with the extra attacker.
The game then went into double overtime and it was Tavares again who came through, scoring on his own rebound by wrapping it around the net for the series-clinching goal.
The Islanders hope the playoffs starting up in the spring of 2020 will be the first Stanley Cup for them since 1983. They have been the story of the NHL season with their 10-game winning streak and 17-game point streak. They will need to continue to play well throughout the season to give them a shot.
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.