EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Playoff hockey returns to the Nassau Coliseum and perhaps it couldn’t come at a better time for the New York Islanders.
Tied 1-1 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in their best of seven series, the Islanders are hoping the return to Long Island will give them an added boost for Game 3. It marks the first time in two years that a postseason game will take place at the Coliseum and the 6,250 that will be in attendance will be the largest gathering of fans in the building since the COVID-19 Pandemic pause the 2019-20 season last year.
On top of all that, Thursday begins the final swan song for the Nassau Coliseum as the Islanders prepare to move to UBS Arena in the fall. All of that is expected to create a powder keg of emotion when the puck drops, and the Islanders are hoping to take full advantage of that.
“The Coliseum comes alive this time of year,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “We’re going to be looking to harness a lot of that energy and apply it to the game tonight. We’re excited to get out there.”
The Islanders haven’t played a postseason game on Nassau Coliseum ice since April 12, 2019, when they defeated Pittsburgh 3-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Islanders went on to sweep Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
The Islanders have been perfect on Coliseum ice under Barry Trotz and the veteran coach is hoping that the home crowd can get the team off to a better start than the first two games. The Islanders have struggled out of the gate in Game 1 and Game 2, with the sluggish opening period ultimately costing New York in the second game.
“It shouldn’t be a friendly place to come in and have fun for the opposition,” Trotz said. “Just need positive energy from our fans and I know they’ll bring it tonight. We’re going to need every ounce of them and we’ll try to give every ounce that we have.”
One group in orange and blue that has fed off the energy of the Nassau Coliseum fans in the past has been the Islanders’ identity line. Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin often use their physical style of play to generate momentum for New York.
Part of that energy that they have comes from the fans when they’re at home.
“It adds energy when you’re going out there and making contact and trying to create a buzz,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “When there is a buzz that follows obviously it injects energy into ourselves and the group. Our job is to go out there and bring that building alive.”