This one hurts.
This was supposed to play out like every sports movie ever made. Road team greatly outplayed in the first two periods, only to emerge from the second intermission to play their way to glory...or at least the second round.
It started out that way. The Islanders came out buzzing in the 3rd period and tied the game on Frans Nielsen's first goal of the playoffs. But the NHL isn't a movie. And 11 shots on net isn't going to win you a game in December, let alone in the playoffs.
Instead, the Islanders season ended fittingly, with yet another failed power play. It was the first and only power play of the game, with only 3 minutes left in regulation. The Isles failed on all 14 opportunities they had with the man advantage in this series, which is a recipe for an early exit from the postseason.
This one may have been easier to swallow had the team showed up in the first two periods. Maybe fans could have stomached the one goal loss if the Islanders players had come out of the gate like they did on Saturday. But instead they played the first 40 minutes like a team who had already lost the game, their season, and their home.
Injuries weren't to blame for this one. Neither was the defense. It was the team's lack of urgency and desire that cost them a chance to move on. And that will sit with Islanders fans, and hopefully the players, most of the offseason.
This season deserved better. Jaroslav Halak deserved better. The Nassau Coliseum deserved better. The fans, for the most part, deserved better.
Tonight was the most important game of the season for the Islanders, and only Halak, who made a handful of amazing saves, showed up. Many players were AWOL, including our great captain, John Tavares.
The Capitals played well, but this was a series the Islanders could have called their own. Instead they let the chance slip through their fingers.
So ends a season of memories. A season where the feeling of being a winner returned to the Islanders franchise, the Islanders players, and the Islanders fans. A season that is hopefully a stepping stone to greater seasons to come. A season where we said goodbye to the only home we've ever known.
15 teams end the Stanley Cup playoffs with a loss. But tonight, it's hard as an Islanders fan to not leave the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight feeling like a loser.