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Five Islanders 2015 Moments: The Battle of New York comes to Barclays Center

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This is more like it.

As close as it gets.
As close as it gets.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the most intense game played at Barclays Center during its maiden months as the Islanders' new home was the first one against the Rangers.

We mythologize Nassau Coliseum as much as anyone, but it has always been this way. For years, the locals found any excuse to dodge games against Florida, Edmonton and the like only to turn up when bragging rights were on the line, while Long Island-based Rangers fans, often too frugal to pony up for a train ticket straight to Madison Square Garden, could always count on equally frugal Islanders fans to sell them tickets to the Coliseum for a tidy profit.

What is mildly surprising is that a regular season game that had an inordinate amount of hype actually lived up to its billing. Broadcast on NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry (itself usually a letdown), Brooklyn's first Islanders-Rangers game was an eventful, entertaining tilt proving that the rivalry didn't lose much in the divorce from Nassau County and that Barclays Center is just as capable of hosting an intense derby game as any other arena.

It took until December 2nd for the teams to meet and both came ready. The Rangers started very strongly, the Islanders eventually took control and both Henrik Lundqvist and Jaroslav Halak were brilliant. The regulation scoring came from a great individual play by John Tavares and a lucky one by Viktor Stalberg.

Overtime saw the Islanders flirt with disaster by taking a too many men on the ice penalty, but a shootout was inevitable. Kyle Okposo scored the only goal and Dan Boyle, a target of derision for both fan bases, provided the show's final, dramatic kicker.

Throughout the entire game, Barclays Center buzzed with an energy not seen during any of the Islanders' previous home dates, including its regular season opener against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. The crowd has been alternately described as being 50-50 for both teams, 60-40 in favor of the Islanders, 70-30 in favor of the Rangers and a million ratios in between. The actual number doesn't matter because the hatred is equal, no matter where the teams are playing.

The move to Brooklyn hasn't been a smooth transition for the Islanders and their fans, and more bumps are probably on the way. But with more games and crowds like this - with or without the team's most bitter rivals involved - Barclays Center will feel like home in short order.

___

This series wasn't meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive. It wa organized in chronological order, not some kind of subjective ranking.

They're simply the moments that stuck out to me when thinking about the Islanders' last calendar year. Others writing similar lists had other notable moments: the first game at Barclays Center, the Islanders' first win in Brooklyn over the Winnipeg Jets, the signings of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk and the passing of Al Arbour among them. No doubt there have been moments that you remember that everyone else skipped.

As we've seen here time and time and time and time again, people can be glass half full or glass half empty (or non-committal) when looking at the same exact events. If there was something that made you smile, or made you think, hold on to it. If there was something that still pisses you off months later, use it productively as a springboard to learning something new.

As always, please remember: everyone here and many others elsewhere all want the same thing: success for the New York Islanders. Let's hope that 2016 is the year we reach the heights we're all looking for.