Barry Trotz was on the visitor’s bench for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2015, when the New York Islanders staved off elimination and the closing of Nassau Coliseum by beating Trotz’s Washington Capitals.
“People were cheering, people were banging, and it felt like the building was moving,” Trotz said Tuesday. “And it was deafening in there during the whole game.”
A little more than six years later, Trotz will get a chance to find out what it’s like to have that kind of noise in support of his team when the Islanders look to finish off the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday night. They’ll also try to ensure at least one more playoff series at the building at Uniondale, N.Y., that has been rebooted more often than a 1980s TV show.
The Islanders moved into position to close out the series Monday when Josh Bailey scored 51 seconds into the second overtime to lift visiting New York to a 3-2 win and a 3-2 series advantage.
But Trotz knows the Islanders will have to play better Wednesday in order to clinch a postseason series at the Coliseum — which they are leaving, for good this time, for UBS Arena at the Nassau/Queens border this fall — for the first time since 1993, when they closed out a Patrick Division semifinal series with a Game 6 win over the Capitals.
The Islanders are expected to welcome about 9,000 fans Wednesday, an increase of 2,200 from the amount allowed in for Games 3 and 4.
New York did close out a quarterfinal series at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in the franchise’s first season in that building in the spring of 2016, when John Tavares scored in double overtime of Game 6 to eliminate the Florida Panthers.
The Islanders never led in regulation Monday, during which they were outshot 41-20 and went through a 30-minute period spanning the second and third where they collected just five shots. But Jordan Eberle made New York’s first shot of the third count when he scored off a Penguins turnover at the 8:50 mark.
“We didn’t have enough guys good enough tonight,” Trotz said Monday night. “To get this (series) against the Penguins, you’re going to need everyone to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Another turnover led to Bailey’s game-winner, which he collected after picking off an errant clearing pass by Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, who said Tuesday he wasn’t concerned with any carry-over into Wednesday.
“I’m a pretty easygoing person,” Jarry said. “So, it’s just about going about my business and doing what I can to be better the next day.”
Despite the loss that nudged them to the edge of elimination, the Penguins expressed confidence with how they performed Monday following a wire-to-wire, 4-1 loss in Game 4 on Saturday, when Bailey scored 8:07 into the second to give the Islanders a lead they’d never relinquish.
Outside of Game 4, the Penguins have trailed for just 31 seconds in the series.
“The result was not what we wanted tonight,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. “But I think we made a statement. That’s the way we need to play going into their arena. I’m pretty confident that if we play the same way, we’ll get the result.”
Islanders right winger Oliver Wahlstrom, who suffered what looked to be an upper-body injury when he was checked into the boards by Mike Matheson in the third period, was described as day-to-day by Trotz on Monday and underwent tests Tuesday.
–Field Level Media