WASHINGTON -- You could hear a pin drop in the New York Islanders dressing room Monday night, minutes after their season ended in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Verizon Center.
A season that began with so much promise, one the Islanders hoped would provide Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a proper sendoff before play begins at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this fall, instead ended the same way it has each year since 1993: without a series victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Things were supposed to be different this season, starting with the acquisition of goalie Jaroslav Halak from, ironically, the Capitals. The Islanders signed forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin during unrestricted free agency, then landed defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk in trades one week before the season got underway.
"It's a tough feeling," said captain John Tavares, the face of the franchise who didn't have a shot on goal in Game 7. "It's hard to believe it's over. You fight so hard, you put so much into the season, you put so much into the series. You're so close. Game 7, you lose by a goal.
"We're disappointed for [the fans]. I don't think we talked about it a whole lot, but we know what this season meant at the Coliseum and how they responded for us was absolutely tremendous. We couldn't have asked for anything better."