WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s over.
The Islanders’ season ended in heartbreak Monday night, ending New York’s 43-year run at Nassau Coliseum.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the go-ahead goal with 7:18 remaining in Game 7 at Washington’s Verizon Center, and Braden Holtby only needed to make 10 saves, leading the Capitals to a 2-1 victory that eliminated the Islanders in the first round.
“It’s a tough one. It’s just hard to believe it’s really over,” said Islanders captain John Tavares, who had two goals and four assists in the series. “Our expectations were high, we believed that we could win this series, that we would win this series.”
The loss ends the Islanders’ playing days at Nassau Coliseum, which opened in 1972 and saw its last game Saturday in Game 6. The team is moving to Brooklyn next season.
“We wanted to get back home,” coach Jack Capuano said.
“It’s a tough feeling,” Tavares said. “We knew what this season meant at the Coliseum.”
You have to go back 22 years to find a playoff series won by the Islanders, and that victory in 1993 came against — guess who? — the Capitals. Since then, New York has lost seven consecutive first-round series.
“Obviously we didn’t want to end the season this way,” goalie Jaroslav Halak said. “We didn’t accomplish our goal.”
Halak pointed to Washington’s 26-11 edge in shots, saying: “We needed to shoot a little more. Obviously you’re not going to score if you don’t shoot.”
Only three teams have produced fewer shots in a playoff game since 1990, according to STATS.
This was the first Game 7 of this year’s NHL playoffs, fittingly. Through the first six games, each team scored 14 goals. Each won on the road. Each won in overtime. During the regular season, both finished with 101 standings points.
The Capitals now face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers, who eliminated Washington from the 2012 and 2013 playoffs — in Game 7 each time.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. “We wanted to play the Rangers really bad at home and we wanted to keep playing more games. We felt like we had enough to raise a banner this year. It just didn’t work out that way.”
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