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New York Islanders

Islanders Fans Give Team Warm Welcome Following Surprising Postseason Run

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Islanders fans

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — For a moment, standing in the parking lot of Republic Airport you would have sworn that you were at the Nassau Coliseum.

Fans walked about in New York Islanders jerseys and chanting “Let’s Go Islanders!” Motorists in their cars leaned on the horn to the same tune. That was the way Islanders fans welcomed the team back to Long Island on Friday afternoon following their Game 6 elimination loss to Tampa Bay the night before.

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What started as a post on social media about trying to welcome the Islanders home after a month and a half in the NHL’s playoff bubble, led to a sizable crowd waiting just outside the airport gates to greet the team.

“They played with a lot of heart,” Islanders fan Rich Alonzo said. “It was just an amazing thing to see how far this team has come over the 30 years of my life and just the effort they gave. They gave it their all and this is what I could do to give back to them. I’d do anything I can for this team.”

The Islanders charter flight from Edmonton landed on Long Island just after 4:15 p.m. The players disembarked to rousing cheers from the fans that tracked to the small Long Island airport, located less than 15 miles away from the Nassau Coliseum.

One fan NYI Hockey Now spoke with made the trip all the way from Patchogue in eastern Long Island. Another had left school early so he could get to Farmingdale in time to welcome the Islanders home.

Fans carried flags and homemade posters and waved them as the players got off the plane. Chants of “Varly” and “Lou” echoed around the area on several occasions, as did chants for Islanders coach Barry Trotz and star forward Mat Barzal.

“Just how hard the boys worked, they deserve a good welcome home,” Nick Wolf said. “Especially for everything they sacrificed to give us some more Islanders hockey this season. They played amazing. It’s the least we could do.”

For a number of fans on hand on Friday, this year had been the first time they had seen the Islanders go as far as they did. The Islanders hadn’t reached the Eastern Conference Finals since 1993.

So for fans like 19-year-old Taylor Hackal and her 17-year-old sister Brooke, it had been a season like no other.

“I think it’s so cool for us to be a part of it and to be young fans,” Taylor Hackal said while holding a Fathead cutout of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. “Moving forward and as we grow up we can always remember this as one of the best seasons that they’ve had. I think it’s really great.”

It was a similar feel that Anthony Galanoudis expressed.

“I was born in 1995, so this is the deepest I’ve seen them make it,” Galanoudis said. “A lot of young fans here that missed the glory days, the dynasty days. This is our first taste of success and ever since Lou and Trotz came along I think it’s here to stay.”

Several of the Islanders waved to the fans as the got off the plane. Cal Clutterbuck motioned to the crowd several times.

And Pageau thanked Islanders fans for their support in a tweet he sent out while sitting on the bus at Republic Airport.

That surely was to the delight of Brooke Hackal, who called the addition of the centerman one of her top moments this season.

“We were automatically obsessed with him,” Brooke Hackal said. “He’s one of our best players and I think just seeing him be so successful in this playoff series is just really exciting. Looking forward to the future.”

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New York Islanders

Three Takeaways: Dobson, Bellows Look Good, Barzal Finds Two-Way Game in Win | NYHN+

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New York Islanders players

The New York Islanders started off the 2020-21 NHL season off on the right foot Thursday night with a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers.

The Islanders capitalized on the power play on several occasions, they received timely goaltending when they needed it and their top-six forwards found the back of the net. Not to mention, the play of several young Islanders hoping to maintain their spots on the roster.

Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Islanders’ season-opening win over their Manhattan rivals:

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New York Islanders

GARDEN PARTY: Lee, Barzal Lead Islanders Shutout Thrashing of Rangers

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New York Islanders Anders lee Mathew Barzal

The New York Islanders will take a start like that any day.

The Islanders scored three times in the first period, anchored by goals from Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal, and kicked off the 2020-21 season with a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. Brock Nelson also scored for the Islanders on Thursday.

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“I think we just wanted to start on the right foot and get to our game early,” Lee said. “Find that momentum by playing the way we play and I think we did a pretty good of that. It was the result of a good camp and everyone being ready for tonight, and Varly playing a great game as well. Just a good team effort.”

The season-opening win was anchored by a strong effort in the first and third period by the Isles, and a good performance in the net when they needed it from Semyon Varlamov. It was the 10th consecutive opening night start and second with the Islanders for Varlamov, who finished the night with 24 saves.

The opening night shutout was the Isles’ first since Chico Resch accomplished the feat in 1976 against Philadelphia.

“It’s always easy to play like that when we score first,” Varlamov said. “Overall I’m pretty happy with how we did today. I thought the team played very well.”

The Islanders finished the night with 33 shots on net, while holding the young Rangers to 24 shots.

The Isles special teams unit got plenty of work to start the season, with the Rangers giving the Islanders eight power-play chances on Thursday. They capitalized on two of their chances.

It didn’t take long for the Islanders to find the back of the net on Thursday night. It was a mere 2:33 into the game when Nelson lit the lamp for the first of four goals on the evening from the Long Island visitors.

The goal was the fourth fastest the Islanders have scored in a season-opening game in franchise history.

Anthon Beauvillier went for a shot inside the faceoff circle, but had it redirect off the skate of Adam Fox and went right to Nelson in the slot. Nelson quickly put it past Igor Shesterkin for the Isles’ first power-play goal of the year.

Just over a minute later, the Isles struck paydirt again. After Lee took a stick up high he stayed on the ice and after a Rangers turnover was able to create a two-on-one. The Islanders captain fired a shot of the New York goalie’s arm and in for his first of two goals on Thursday.

“I was a little upset. Took one to the teeth and I was making my way back,” Lee said about the goal. “I kind of got lucky that the puck got to Ledds and I could kind of take a chance on hoping that that one got out. He made a great play getting the puck down and it came right to me.”

Barzal capped off a strong first for the Isles with an impressive goal to make it 3-0 after weaving by three Rangers.

Despite a Rangers push in the second, the Islanders were the ones to add a goal in the third. Jordan Eberle threw the puck towards the net and Lee redirected the puck in the slot for his second of the night.

The goal was officially credited to Eberle, but video evidence clearly shows the puck was tipped by Lee.

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New York Islanders

County Exec Laura Curran Cheering on New York Islanders from Quarantine

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Nassau County Exec Laura Curran

As the New York Islanders open their season this evening many Islanders fans will be watching the game from home, which includes Nassau County’s most influential fan of the team county executive Laura Curran.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will be watching the Islanders battle the New York Rangers from quarantine after she was recently exposed to someone with COVID-19. Curran tweeted out a video this afternoon about her excitement for being able to watch the season opener in its entirety.

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“I guess the small silver lining of quarantine is that I get I watch TV tonight,” Curran said in the video. “And that means I get to watch the entire Islanders game.  Game one,  taking on the Rangers, 7 p.m. puck drops. I am ready.”

Curran’s office announced that the county executive had been exposed to COVID-19 on Wednesday night and she is at the beginning of a 10-day quarantine. Officials from the county executive’s office declined to disclose to Newsday where Curran had been exposed to the virus for privacy reasons.

Curran has been an unabashed fan of the Islanders and today was the second time in five days the Nassau County politician tweeted about the Islanders. The county executive tweeted “YES! YES! YES!” along with a GIF of Mathew Barzal following news that the Islanders star had re-signed for three years with the team on Saturday.

Curran has been a vocal supporter of the UBS Arena project at Belmont Park and of getting the Islanders back on Long Island before the opening of UBS Arena in the fall. Curran twice lobbied NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to allow the Islanders to play at Nassau Coliseum before their new home opens.

In 2019, Curran wrote to Bettman to help persuade him to allow the Islanders to play home playoff games on Long Island. The NHL eventually came to an agreement that allowed the Islanders to play their first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum and then after that all home postseason games would move to Barclays Center.

Last year, she called on Bettman again to allow the Islanders to play their final full season before UBS Arena at the Coliseum. The NHL eventually allowed the Islanders to do so after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in.

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