UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — After suffering a brutal blowout loss on Sunday, the Islanders find themselves with their backs against the wall as they return to Nassau Coliseum for Game 6 on Wednesday.
New York trails in the series 3-2 and a loss would mean not only elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but also a difficult goodbye to the team’s long-time home.READ MORE: Bodycam Video Shows Moments Before NYPD Lieutenant Was Shot In Ankle Apprehending Suspect In The Bronx
With UBS Arena set to open this fall, Wednesday night’s game could be the final one for fans in the old barn, which has been home to the franchise for 46 of its 49 years of existence (including the 2018-19 and ’19-20 seasons when the Isles split games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum).
While the new arena, which CBS2 recently took a tour of, is state of the art in every way, saying goodbye to the Coliseum would be that much sweeter with another win under the team’s belt and perhaps a few more. The winner of this series will meet either the Montreal Canadiens or Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Islanders last played for the championship in 1984, when their famed “Drive for Five” straight NHL titles ended with a five-game loss to Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers.
Fans have made the Coliseum a difficult place for opponents throughout the postseason and the Islanders players know that will be the case again Wednesday.
“They’ve been unbelievable [from] the end of the season and obviously the playoffs,” winger Jordan Eberle said. “You get a little extra boost when they’re cheering. Our record shows for itself how well we’ve played there. In a must-win game, it’s awesome that we get to start off at the Coliseum. You get their energy behind you, it gives you a little extra oomph. You’re going to see a very different team. We have a veteran team that’s going to respond.”
In front of the home fans, the Isles have gone 5-3 in these playoffs, with each of the losses coming by one goal. The fans will have plenty of time to prepare to provide a raucous atmosphere as the team is holding a Fan Fest in front of the arena beginning at 5 p.m., three hours before the puck drops.
Fan Fest for Game 6 starts at 5PM tomorrow night!READ MORE: Several People Shot Outside Queens Laundromat, Police Investigating
Come early and join us on the plaza out front of the Coliseum. Enjoy live music, a photo opportunity with Sparky, face painting, snacks, special guest appearances, tons of chances to score prizes and more! pic.twitter.com/finOVtC4hf
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 22, 2021
In the wake of Sunday’s 8-0 loss, the Islanders and coach Barry Trotz pointed to two key areas of improvement for Game 6: puck possession and penalties.
“Turnovers, that’s the biggest thing. That’s where they generate a lot of their offense. Us not getting pucks in deep, turning the puck over in the neutral zone and just outside of our blueline,” center Casey Cizikas said after Game 5. “They transition really well. They create a lot of chances that way. If we hold on to the puck, make smart plays and do the right things, they aren’t going to get those chances.”
The Islanders totaled 57 penalty minutes in Game 5, including a cross-checking major and game misconduct by Mathew Barzal. The Lightning capitalized on their power play opportunities, scoring on three of the six chances.
“We’ve got to get back to our game,” Trotz said. “Our game is having good structure, a real good work ethic, go to the net hard, force turnovers, play good defense, stay disciplined, play 200-feet and have a lot of battle in our game. If we do that, we usually have pretty good results. We have to trust that. In the last couple of years, with games in the regular season and playoffs, it’s been a real good formula for us.”
That formula has brought the Islanders to the brink of the Stanley Cup Final in each of the last two seasons. This time, they’ll be looking to avoid a repeat of last season when Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime to give Tampa a 2-1 win in Game 6.MORE NEWS: COVID In New York: Mask Mandates Not Being Re-Imposed Just Yet As Concern Grows Over Delta Variant
Puck drop for Wednesday’s matchup is set for 8 p.m., with coverage on NBC Sports Network.