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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Don’t look now, but the Islanders are for real.
Die-hard fans have been screaming all along about New York’s turnaround. It just took the rest of us a little time to catch up.
You have our attention now, thanks to two wins (and a third that could have been) over the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. The roof nearly blew off Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night during Game 4, a wild 6-4 win that knotted the best-of-seven playoff series at 2-2.
“It’s been pretty incredible the way the people have embraced us and being back in the playoffs, and obviously getting a win last night,” Islanders star John Tavares told WFAN radio’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday. “They’re hungry for it.”
Tavares scored the decisive goal with 9:49 left. Casey Cizikas added some much-needed insurance late in the final period.
“It was an intense third period, and you could see them give us definitely a big lift with their energy,” Tavares said of the Coliseum crowd.
CAPELLINI: ISLES FANS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO CELEBRATE
The 22-year-old said his team is fully aware of the glory days of the early-80s, when the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cup championships.
“I think we have a good idea of what a special time that was and how proud people are of that,” he said. “So we know (the fans) are behind us, and they obviously want to get back there. It’s been a lot of years and been some tough times, ups and downs. … We feel we’re getting there, but still have a long way to go.”
First they’ll have to get through the mighty Penguins.
Now it’s a best-of-three in the opening-round series, and the momentum has swung New York’s way. If they manage to take Game 5 Thursday night in Pittsburgh, watch out.
“We have the talent and we’ve got the depth to come from behind and make it happen,” Tavares said. “We know with the way we’ve been playing and the confidence we’ve built and how we play and with everybody contributing, we believe in our locker room, you know, we got a chance at any point in the game to turn it around. Just kind of like how we turned around our season.”
And like how the organization has turned itself around.
It started with Tavares, the first overall pick by the Islanders in the 2009 draft, who made a strong case for the Hart Trophy this season.
“It’s great,” Tavares said. “When I came here, I was given a great opportunity by the Islanders and got to know all the people here in the organization, and what the goals were and where we wanted to get to. And this is part of the journey that we’ve all been striving for. I think a lot of (misconceptions) have been out there about our club.
“It definitely is one of my goals to be a part of the group that can help turn things around and get back to where a lot of the tradition and history has been. We’re on our way and it’s part of the journey. So we’ll just try to stay in the moment and focus on what we have to do to keep being successful and keep pushing ourselves to get better. It’s been a heck of a season.”
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