No. 8 - John Tavares: Islanders vs. Florida Panthers in Game 6 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The relationship between John Tavares and Islanders fans has changed since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center on April 24th, 2016. But by the end of that night, the face of the franchise had delivered what he was he drafted No. 1overalll to do and advanced the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.
The Islanders had gone 23 years without a playoff series victory and, for the first time during that stretch, had a chance to clinch a series on home ice. Trailing 1-0 with under a minute left in the regulation, Tavares came off the bench and followed the play as Nick Leddy skated end-to-end. His centering pass was tipped by Nikolay Kulemin and trickled through Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. Tavares found the puck underneath Luongo and slid it into the net to tie the game.
The Islanders and Panthers would head to double-overtime for the second consecutive game. Finally, at 10:41 of 2OT, Tavares took a pass from Kyle Okposo and fired a hard shot on goal. The Isles captain then found the rebound and scored a wraparound goal to end the series and advance to the next round.
"When I got the rebound, I realized how far he came out," Tavares said. "I had a good step and just tried to not take my time, but really make sure I had control of the puck. And obviously once you get around the net, make sure it goes in."
Goaltender Thomas Greiss was the other star of the series, allowing just 13 goals on 234 shots in the series, for a 1.79 goals-against average and a .944 save-percentage. He made 41 saves in Game 6 after making 47 saves in Game 5, both 2OT victories.
"It's time we had to get over this hump and push forward," Tavares said after the game. "I don't think we tried to put too much pressure on ourselves knowing we weren't here for all of that, but certainly a lot us have been here for a while and it was time for us."