The team's home for 43 years, Nassau Coliseum would remain open as long as the Islanders kept playing in 2015.
That turned out to be a measly seven games beyond the end of the regular season; not nearly as many as Islanders fans were hoping for, praying for or demanding.
Though the season was ultimately disappointing, the Islanders did leave their longtime home one small gift. That the final game played at Nassau Coliseum was a playoff victory is not insignificant. That it was a tense, tightly played game that turned on one crazy play and ended with fisticuffs and the Islanders living to play on another day gave a contemporary audience a vague idea of why they used to call the place "Fort Neverlose."
To be honest, much of that April 25th, 2015 game is a haze for me. The tension was just too much. I remember a closely-played game, with both teams trying to forcefully take what they needed, and feeling the gut-wrenching stress of a win-or-go-home situation and trying to will every Islanders shot into the net with my mind.
Fortunately, they didn't need me to win the game. After John Tavares got freight trained by Alex Ovechkin in the corner, a quick-thinking Nick Leddy and a well-placed Nikolay Kulemin combined to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead halfway through the third period that they would not relinquish.
The only thing I can clearly see again in my mind is Cal Clutterbuck's empty net goal, the last ever scored at Nassau Coliseum, and the one that sealed the win and booked a Game 7. I didn't even remember the melee at the end of the game following an ill-advised shot on Jaroslav Halak after the final whistle. But of course, there had to be one.
The win set up a classic, epic final game for all the marbles like the ones the teams played every year (or so) in the early 80's.
That was what we expected anyway. The Game 7 we got was... not epic.
But the final game at Nassau Coliseum was more than worthy of the legends. Now it's time to make some more at the new place.