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Home Is Where the Highlights Are: Top 3 Islanders Home Games of 2013

Up, down, and certainly always interesting, the Islanders complete their home schedule against the Panthers tomorrow. Time to take a look back at the key games the Islanders played on Long Island in 2013.

Johnny's dismissal of the Devils made our Top 3
Johnny's dismissal of the Devils made our Top 3

As we draw ever so close to the Islanders final (regular season) home game at the Nassau Coliseum for the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down short-term memory lane.

Fort Neverlose spent a good part of the season as Fort Hardlywin, nevertheless there were a few home games Islanders fans can look back on with fond memories. There were three games in particular that stood out at home this year as big turning points for the Islanders, whether it be for the season or the franchise, starting off with:

3. March 24, 2013 - Islanders 3, Panthers 0

The Islanders had returned home from a road trip just five days prior with an above .500 record for the first time since February, ready to start a huge four game home stand. The Isles proceeded to lose the first three games of the homestand in ugly fashion, blowing leads and getting outscored in the third period 9-0.

At 13-15-3, this could have been the beginning of tank season, but not even a letter from a blowhard blogger to General Manager Garth Snow would deny these young Islanders of their playoff aspirations.

It didn't hurt to have the NHL's worst Florida Panthers in town, but regardless the Isles turned in an effort that cried "We're not done yet!"

An early power play goal from Andrew MacDonald was all the team needed, as Evgeni Nabokov would stop 26 shots and keep the Cats off the scoreboard. The Islanders haven't lost in regulation at home since.

2. April 13, 2013 - Rangers 1, Islanders 0 (OT)

This one is still fresh in everyone's mind, and it's not usually a good idea to relive losses. But this game proved to be a bigger game for the state of the franchise (and New York hockey) than it did the actual season.

This game marked the return of a rivalry that has been fizzling for years. With playoff implications for both teams, the build up alone to this game, for both Islanders and Rangers fans alike, was enough to get this game into my Top 3. The crowd was abuzz, and the Coliseum felt that playoff-like intensity for the first time in what seems like forever.

The game didn't disappoint either. Nabokov and Henrik Lundqvist stood on their heads, refusing to let rubber past them for the full 60 minutes of regulation. Both teams played their hearts out, and while the Islanders won the battle on the ice, the Rangers won the battle on the scoreboard.

And even though the Islanders only got one point out of the game, the franchise was still a winner, witnessing the most meaningful game on Nassau Coliseum ice in some time.

1. February 16, 2013 - Islanders 5, Devils 1

This, exactly two months prior to the Islanders final home game of the season, was in my mind the biggest of this year's home games.

Coming into that February night, the Devils held the Eastern Conference's best record, losing only two games in regulation. They had already taken 5 of 6 points from the Islanders and the Islanders were in a vulnerable place. The Isles had just broken a five game losing streak the game before with a shootout win over the Rangers, but were still only 1-5 on the season at the Coliseum.

There could have been a Rangers hangover, there could have been a turn back towards our typical Islanders early season downfall, but instead there was a Devils beatdown .

John Tavares notched his fourth career hat trick, Matt Moulson had four points, and the Islanders scored four power play goals en route to a 5-1 victory. Nabokov stopped 30 of 31 shots (there seems to be a pattern here...good goalie, good game) and the Islanders had made a statement. (And Nabokov's post-game statements entertained, too.)

Granted the team got whooped 7-0 by the Flyers the following game, but the message was still clear. They weren't the same old Islanders then, and going into their last home game against Florida, they still aren't now.

And that wraps up my Top 3 Islanders home games this season. There was no poll, no request for outside opinion whatsoever (as we are wont to do here at LHH, comrade), so the views and Top 3 expressed in this article are solely that of the author.