Blue Jackets’ Cam Atkinson finds a hole on Islanders goalie Cma Atkinson for another Blue Jackets goal on Saturday.
It wasn’t the ideal ending to regular season hockey in Uniondale, but the Islanders still have bigger games left to play at the old barn.
The Isles blew two third period leads and coughed up home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, losing 5-4 to the Blue Jackets a shootout in the Nassau Coliseum regular season finale. The third period saw six goals- three by each team – and culminated in a Cam Atkinson shootout winner.
The evening was full of nostalgia, including a video message from Bill Torrey, a series of highlights from the building’s 43-year history and the ceremonial puck drop from Claire Arbour, the wife of legendary coach Al Arbour.
Brandon Dubinsky celebrates a goal as the Blue Jackets top the Islanders.
After a last place finish last year, the team gave the Coliseum a proper send off in its final season by spending most of the year atop the Eastern Conference and clinching a postseason berth on Thursday. The Coliseum is guaranteed at least two more games in the playoffs.
“It’s just been home for six years,” Tavares said before the game. “When it’s full and we’re playing well, there’s no atmosphere in the league like it.”
First-year Islander Johnny Boychuk said playing in the Coliseum as a member of the home team went even better than he expected.
Fans salute the Islanders in their final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum.
“You come to watch a game here, it’s obviously loud when you have a lot of people and we’ve brought back a lot of fans from us winning at the beginning of the year. It being the last season in this building, it’s been fun to play here because it’s been loud and the fans are passionate,” Boychuk said. “”Before you’d come in and play (as a road team) and you’d have more fans sometimes than the home team. But that’s been previous years. This year it’s been phenomenal to come in and get the crowd into it throughout the whole year and have them on your side. It’s been fun to play.”
The Blue Jackets made it clear that they wouldn’t just roll over and lose for the sake of pomp and circumstance. In the first period alone, Jack Johnson laid a bad hit on Casey Cizikas into the boards, David Savard handed out a cheap shot to Tavares and Scott Hartnell ran amok going after anybody in his way. The Isles were the superior team for most of the period, but entered the locker room for the first intermission with a goose egg thanks to 20 saves from Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Instead, it was the Jackets that led 1-0 after a Cam Atkinson power play goal with 9.9 seconds to play. The score marked the third consecutive game that the Isles have surrendered a goal in the final 10 seconds of a period.
Kyle Okposo scored at 11:02 of the second to put the Isles on the board. Eric Boulton and Tavares added goals in the opening 3:47 of the third to put the Isles up 3-1, but a freak goal from Brandon Dubinsky and another score by Alexander Wennberg tied it with 8:49 to play. Nikolay Kulemin put the Isles back in front with 4:24 to play, but Hartnell tied it again with 1:35 left.
… defenseman Travis Hamonic, who was injured during Friday night’s win over the Penguins was seen limping badly Friday morning. His status for Game 1 of the playoffs is uncertain.
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