The phrase “End of an Era” is thrown around a lot, but that is what the Rangers and Islanders experienced Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
And it appears the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the Islanders will officially mark the final meeting at the Coliseum between the New York rivals. It was a game neither team’s fan base will likely forget.
“It’s such a great rivalry,” said Josh Bailey, who assisted on all three Islanders’ goals. “For myself, personally, and all the guys that have had a chance to be a part of that rivalry, our fans, most importantly, I think got to enjoy it over the years here. You close this chapter and I’m sure there will be other stories to write moving forward at the new arena.”
The Rangers have certainly put on better performances in the Coliseum over the years than they did Saturday night. One memorable one came March 5, 1994, when 23-year-old Sergei Zubov scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to secure the Rangers’ first win on Long Island in nearly five years on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.
But the Islanders have always brought a whole new meaning to home-ice advantage at the Coliseum. Even this season, they have just three regulation losses at home.
Who could forget Game 5 of the 1984 Patrick Division semifinals, when Don Maloney chopped a rebound at shoulder height past the Islanders’ legendary goalie, Billy Smith, with 39 seconds left in regulation to tie up the game?
The Rangers probably thought that game, and that moment in history, would forever belong to them. Not in the Islanders’ house. Defenseman Ken Morrow, known as the Wolfman, won it in overtime. The Islanders were looking for their fifth-straight title that year, but fell short against the Oilers.
There was the unforgettable goalie fight between Dan Cloutier and Tommy Salo in 1998, which led to Cloutier challenging the entire Islanders bench. And the game in 2007, when Chris Simon slashed Ryan Hollweg’s face. Also, Theoren Fleury’s extraordinary chicken dance that tormented former Islanders enforcer Eric Cairns.
Oh, and the debacle of Henrik Lundqvist versus the Islanders’ Ice Girls in 2007.
It all went down at The Barn. But after 132 regular-season games and 19 playoff games, the Coliseum has seen more than enough action between these two franchises. The Islanders’ new UBS Arena in Elmont, L.I., has some very large shoes to fill.
Morgan Barron made his NHL debut on the Rangers’ fourth line, registering one hit in 11:56 of ice time.
Forward Chris Kreider was out for a second game with a lower-body injury, so rookie Vitali Kravtsov started on the second line for the first time since joining the Rangers in late March. Kreider is still considered day-to-day.
Defensemen Ryan Lindgren (upper-body injury) and Jacob Trouba (presumed concussion) also were out and considered day-to-day. As a result, Tarmo Reunanen skated in his second NHL game and his first since March 15, when he was recalled after Adam Fox registered a false positive on a COVID-19 test.
Julien Gauthier played for the first time since April 3 after he had been a healthy scratch for 14 straight games. Phillip Di Giuseppe, who was back in the lineup Thursday at the Garden after being scratched for 12 straight games, was again a healthy scratch.