TAMPA — The Islanders got here into the season with a placing confidence they’d be capable of take the following step.
They are one win — Friday evening in a winner-take-all Game 7 towards the Lightning — from doing that.
After falling in six video games to the Lightning within the Eastern Conference finals throughout final season’s bubble playoffs, the Islanders made it clear from the primary day of coaching camp in January that they have been striving to construct upon that run.
Forcing Game 7 with a 3-2 overtime win at a raucous Nassau Coliseum Wednesday night, the Isles have, on the very least, been capable of exceed final season’s run and pull inside one win from qualifying for their first Stanley Cup closing since 1984. But with out a win Friday, their season will finish basically in the identical spot final season’s did.
“We know what is at stake,” defenseman Ryan Pulock mentioned Thursday, an off-day as they traveled again to Tampa Bay. “We are going into a Game 7. Obviously it was a big win last night. You enjoy it for a minute. But today is complete refocus and we are ready to go to work and win one game.”
This is unchartered territory for this staff. The franchise hasn’t been in a Game 7 this deep within the playoffs since 1975, when the Islanders rallied from a 3-0 collection deficit towards the Flyers earlier than falling brief, dropping 4-1 in Game 7. That was again when items of the dynasty have been starting to fall into place, with Clark Gillies in his rookie season whereas Denis Potvin and Bob Nystrom have been simply starting their NHL careers.
For a staff that has relied on its expertise, the normally poised Islanders — within the playoffs for a 3rd straight season — should battle via an unfamiliar scenario.
Now that they averted elimination in Game 6, a Stanley Cup closing berth is on the road. And as an alternative of competing in an empty enviornment as they did within the bubble playoffs, the Isles should stand up to the challenges that include enjoying in a monumental sport on the highway.
“Our mentality is the same all the time,” winger Cal Clutterbuck mentioned. “I mentioned this earlier within the playoffs. It is about narrowing your window of focus and specializing in what’s in entrance of you. If you get down a pair in a sport, what can you actually do however be your self?
“For us, it is just about worrying about what you need to do the next time you jump over the boards.”
The final Game 7 the Isles competed in was within the second spherical final 12 months towards Philadelphia, who stormed again from down three video games to 1 earlier than getting shut out in the series finale. Before that, the Islanders misplaced in seven video games to the Capitals within the first spherical of the 2014-15 postseason.
Clutterbuck, Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas, Nick Leddy, Brock Nelson, Matt Martin and Scott Mayfield are the one remaining energetic gamers from that roster.
The Lightning, who haven’t misplaced two playoff video games in a row since 2019, are going through elimination for the primary time prior to now two seasons. In Game 5 at Amalie Arena on Monday, Tampa Bay manhandled the Islanders 8-0, a beating which might nonetheless really feel contemporary for the guests.
But the Islanders, coming off their third win of the postseason wherein they trailed coming into the ultimate interval, are a staff that prides itself on enjoying within the second. The Islanders are combating to take that subsequent step and put the NHL on discover that they can’t be underestimated anymore.
Oh, and protecting the lights on at Nassau Coliseum for another collection absolutely brings some added motivation as nicely.
“We’ve always kind of shown up,” Clutterbuck mentioned. “We’ll continue to show up. It’s kind of what we are. It’s who we are.”