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The Skinny on Islanders-Penguins Playoff Rivalry

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders

This is the 4th time that the Isles and Penguins will meet in the playoffs, and if it is anything like the first three, we are in for a memorable two weeks of hockey.

1975 Quarter-Finals
Game 1 NYI 4 at PIT 5
Game 2 NYI 1 at PIT 3
Game 3 NYI 4 vs. PIT 6
Game 4 NYI 3 vs. PIT 1
Game 5 NYI 4 at PIT 2
Game 6 NYI 4 vs. PIT 1
Game 7 NYI 1 at PIT 0

1975 Quarter-Finals: After defeating the Rangers on JP Parise's overtime goal, the Isles drop the first three games to Pittsburgh. In fact, the Penguins led 3-0 in each game, and never trailed in any of them. However, the Isles turned the tables, and completed the dramatic comeback in seven games. Ed Westfall's third period tally was the only goal of Game 7 as the Islanders, who never trailed in games 4-7, became the first team since the 1942 Maple Leafs to erase a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-7 series.

Bob Nystrom skates towards teammate Garry Howatt as he celebrates a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game 6 of the Quarter-Finals on April 24, 1975 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 4-1. (Photo: B Bennett/Getty Images)


1982 Patrick Division Semi-Finals: The two-time champion Islanders (who had a 15-game win streak in the regular season) were heavy favorites, and pounded the Penguins 8-1 and 7-2 in Games 1 and 2.

1982 Patrick Division Semi-Finals
Game 1 NYI 8 vs. PIT 1
Game 2 NYI 7 vs. PIT 2
Game 3 NYI 1 at PIT 2 (OT)
Game 4 NYI 2 at PIT 5
Game 5 NYI 4 vs. PIT 3 (OT)
The team was so favored that they checked out of their Pittsburgh hotel room before game 3. However Rick Kehoe scored in overtime to prolong the series and the Penguins won Game 4 by a 5-2 count, setting the stage for one of the great games in Coliseum history on April 10, 1982. Trailing 3-1 late in the third period, the Islanders rallied to tie on goals by Mike McEwen and John Tonelli. The rally was keyed in part by Al Arbour's goalie change, as the rules at the time allowed for the goalie to warm-up (and for the players to rest). The rule was changed a couple of years later. In the first overtime game played at the Coliseum since the 1980 Cup clincher, it was again Tonelli and Nystrom, but this time it was Tonelli with the series-winning tally. The dynasty was preserved; had the Penguins won that game history would have remembered the Islanders as, well, the 1991-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

(L-R) Bob Nystrom (down on ice), John Tonelli (center) and Butch Goring of the New York Islanders celebrate Tonelli’s overtime game-winning goal in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime to win the series three games to two. (Photo: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

1993 Patrick Division Final
Game 1 NYI 3 at PIT 2
Game 2 NYI 0 at PIT 3
Game 3 NYI 1 vs. PIT 3
Game 4 NYI 6 vs. PIT 5
Game 5 NYI 3 at PIT 6
Game 6 NYI 7 vs. PIT 5
Game 7 NYI 4 at PIT 3 (OT)

1993 Patrick Division Final: The two-time champion Penguins (who, with help of overtime, had a 17-game win streak in the regular season) were heavy favorites, particularly with the Islanders missing Pierre Turgeon following Dale Hunter's hit from behind. Trailing 1-0 in game 1, the Isles rallied for a 3-2 victory, but Penguins wins in Games 2 and 3 gave Pittsburgh the series lead. Game 4 at the Coliseum was a classic 6-5 Islander win, highlighted by two Tom Fitzgerald shorthanded goals. The defending champs won 6-3 in Game 5, but the Isles forced the series to Game 7 with a 7-5 victory in Game 6 (Steve Thomas had four points). Game 7 was played in Pittsburgh on May 14 and the underdog Isles led 3-1 late in the third period. The Penguins rallied to force overtime, but 5:16 into the session David Volek scored to dethrone the Penguins. The potential dynasty was derailed; had the Penguins won that game history might have remembered the Penguins as, well, the 1980-83 New York Islanders.

Pierre Turgeon and Steve Thomas celebrate a goal during the Patrick Division Final vs. Pittsburgh. The Islanders went on to win the series four games to three. (Photo: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

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