When the puck drops at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn at the Atlantic Avenue subway station, the Islanders have a chance to wrap up their first round series against the Panthers.
It’s been 23 years since the franchise advanced out of the first round. You have to go all the way back to 1993 for the last time the Islanders made a playoff run. That team made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final. After defeating the Capitals in a six game series best remembered for Dale Hunter’s cheap shot on goalscorer Pierre Turgeon, the ’92-93 Islanders stunned the two-time defending champion Penguins, taking the Patrick Division Final in seven games on David Volek’s overtime winner.
A team that featured Turgeon, Ray Ferraro, Darius Kasparaitis, Vladimir Malakhov, Uwe Krupp, Steve Thomas, Derek King, Benoit Hogue, Patrick Flatley and Glenn Healy made it all the way to the Wales Conference Finals. But their luck ran out against eventual Stanley Cup champ Montreal, who ousted them in five games with two needing overtime with the Habs winning both.
Fast forward two decades later and the Islanders no longer play at Nassau Coliseum. Instead, Long Island’s team is now in Brooklyn with a chance to finally exorcise some demons by advancing to the second round. In its inaugural season at Barclays Center, the Isles can make history tonight if they can eliminate the Panthers in Game 6 of Round One. The building will be rocking. The “Yes! Yes! Yes” chants will be loud.
The Isles are here after Alan Quine became the answer to a trivia question by scoring a power play goal in double overtime to beat the Panthers in Game 5. It was the second longest playoff game in Islanders’ franchise history. Quine’s goal came at the 96-minute mark of sudden death from Marek Zidlicky and Game 3 OT hero Thomas Hickey. Quine is used on the top line by coach Jack Capuano and plays on the second power play unit. A 23-year old who only played two NHL games- both with the Isles scoring once- Quine is a great story. Originally taken by the Red Wings in the third round of 2011, he went back in the 2013 Draft and the Islanders took him in Round 6. Now, he has the biggest goal of the series.
The Islanders aren’t here without the clutch play of Thomas Greiss. Signed by GM Garth Snow as a backup for Jaroslav Halak, the 30-year old journeyman has stepped in as the number one goalie with Halak sidelined. After winning 23 games, he’s been sensational outplaying Roberto Luongo. He’s 3-2-0 with a 2.09 goals-against-average and a .938 save percentage.
If they get it done, it’ll be a celebration in Brooklyn for Islander fans. Long overdue. It starts now!