Only time will tell if Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime winner in Game 6 turns out to be the last Islanders goal ever scored at Nassau Coliseum — the old barn’s inhabitants forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line Friday night in Tampa Bay after overcoming a 2-0 deficit on Wednesday night to take an instant-classic 3-2.
If it is indeed the final play in the Coliseum’s 47-year run of hosting the Islanders, which fans will certainly be hoping it won’t be, what a way for them to end that era. But should the Islanders complete the comeback and steal Game 7, we’re talking about one of the most important goals in franchise history.
“It’ll be up there with one of the best because of the situation,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said of where the game ranks for him. “The group that is playing right now, I love this group. This building and what it’s meant to a number of players but probably more than anything, our fans. These are great moments.
“Going off the ice and everyone’s hugging each other, there’s beer cans all over, it’s quite a sight. These are moments you’ll remember and great memories to have. But we have to get another one.”
As for Beauvillier, the goal could not come at a better time for the notoriously streaky winger who had been in the midst of a cold spell, having not scored in each of his last 10 postseason games.
One of his side’s most underrated forecheckers, Beauvillier’s aggressive pursuit of a potential Lightning breakout from their zone placed him in a perfect spot. From the right dot, he picked off a pass from Blake Coleman and swerved toward the area between the dots before popping a wrist shot over the glove of Tampa’s stalwart goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I honestly kind of blacked out a little bit,” Beauvillier said. “They turned the puck over and I saw it go in and like I said, I just kind of blacked out. I was just so happy, just screaming and everyone jumped on me. Obviously an amazing feeling.”
A moment created by staying the course and playing Trotz’s way. And while the team’s success comes before everything else, the 24-year-old was certainly relieved to get “the monkey off my back
“I think as a player, you want to score every night but you have to focus on the main thing,” Beauvillier said. “If your team wins, it trumps everything. You want to help your team to win. Doesn’t matter if you score every night, just have to do the right things.”
So as the rafters shook and beer cans poured down from the heavens, the focus quickly shifted toward a thought that many in the hockey community never thought possible just a few years ago: The Islanders are one win away from making their first Stanley Cup Final since 1984
“It’s a privilege to still be playing at this time of year. It’s obviously exciting,” Beauvillier said. “As a kid, you try to imagine yourself going to Game 7 and having a good game… we earned the right to go back [to Tampa Bay] and play Game 7. It’s going to be fun, a big opportunity for us.”