30 Easter’s ago the New York Islanders were a part of one of the most epic playoff games in Stanley Cup Playoff history.
Every Easter my Dad always tells the story of the New York Islanders Easter Epic. I wasn’t alive for the game but I certainly understand the severity of it in not only Islander history but in NHL history as well.
Game 7 hockey games might be the most stressful and intense things on this planet. To me, there’s no better event in sports than a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and this game certainly lived up to that.
To put this game in perspective the Isles were down 3-1 in the series against the second place Washington Capitals. They won Game 5 and Game 6 in order to force the series to go to a seventh game.
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By the time the third period rolled around the Islanders found themselves down by a goal. It remained this way until Bryan Trottier scored on a backhander to tie up the game at two. That would be the score at the end of the third.
During the first overtime period, there were numerous scoring opportunities for both teams. Greg Smith of the Capitals had the best scoring chance of the period when he beat Kelly Hrudley but Smith was denied by the post.
They headed to a second overtime period where play slowed down. Fatigue was beginning to set in for both teams. Although neither team scored, it was on to triple overtime!
It was the first triple-overtime game since 1971. During the third overtime period, the Islanders had more scoring chances but Capitals goalie Grant Mason remained strong and once again neither time was able to get one into the back of the net.
For the first time since 1951, a playoff game was headed to a fourth overtime period. The play was choppy through the first eight minutes or so of the period which is understandable as it was now the seventh period of the game.
Then this happened:
Pat LaFontaine scored the game winner and the Islanders advanced. They completed the comeback down 3-1 in the series and were able to win it. What a wild game, I couldn’t imagine the agony of sitting through seven periods of Game 7 hockey, my nails would’ve been down to nothing but nubs.
I’ve seen that goal so many times but I still always think what an ugly game winner. Sure Mason was screened on the play and LaFontaine just threw it on net which is exactly what he should’ve done but it wasn’t a particularly nice goal. I guess that’s bound to happen after six and a half periods of hockey though and obviously who cares if it’s pretty if it does the job that’s all that matters.
Happy Easter Islander fans and here’s to hoping we don’t have another four-overtime game. My heart could barely handle double overtime last year.