Skip to Main Content

Islanders in unfamiliar territory ahead of Game 6

New York, which leads Florida 3-2, striving to win first playoff series in 23 years

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen has been a member of the organization since he was selected in the third round of the 2002 NHL Draft. Never before has he been in this position, entering Game 6 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 series lead.

But that will be the case against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, SUN, MSG+) when the Islanders try to win a playoff series for the first time in 23 years.

"It's my first time," Nielsen said after Alan Quine's power-play goal 16 minutes into double overtime gave the Islanders a 2-1 win in Game 5 at BB&T Center on Friday. "We had a chance last year in Game 7 to finish it, but this is the first time we're going back with three wins and have a chance to close it out at home. Hopefully we're going to come out and respond the right way."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm5: Quine wins game with PPG in double OT

This is the Islanders' third trip to the playoffs in the past four seasons. Last year, they lost Game 5 to the Washington Capitals 5-1 to fall behind in a series they would lose in seven games. In 2013, they were shut out in a 4-0 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 and then lost in overtime in Game 6 to end their season.

Finally, New York enters Game 6 with a chance to advance.

"I just think it builds a little bit of confidence," coach Jack Capuano said. "We didn't have too much success against [Florida] in the three games that we played this year (in the regular season) and probably should have lost the last one at home; we scored three consecutive goals and had 17 shots in the third period. But they're a good team. They had some chances. [Game 5] could have gone either way, but I thought Thomas Greiss really stood tall for us."

The Islanders have been successful in their first season in Brooklyn; they were 25-11-5 at home during the regular season before splitting Games 3 and 4 of this series. With a chance to win it in front of their fans, they don't want to disappoint them and have to board another flight to Florida for Game 7, which would be on Tuesday.

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm5: Greiss robs Barkov's penalty shot in OT

"We've had a good home record all year," New York defenseman Calvin de Haan said. "We've played good at the Barclays Center. It's just another hockey game at the end of the day; it's just one we've got to try and get the [win]. We're going to watch some video and relax and try and just play Islander hockey."

They know they'll need a better effort in Game 6 and not have to rely on Greiss to steal another one the way he did Friday when he made several highlight-reel saves among his 47, including on Aleksander Barkov's penalty shot in the first overtime.

Nielsen, the longest-tenured player on the Islanders, knows they haven't won anything yet.

"It feels like it's still a long way," Nielsen said. "It's a good hockey team over there. They're heavy, they have a lot of puck time in our own end and they really make us defend and work hard without the puck. We've got to come out and pay the price like we did [in Game 5]."

View More