NY Islanders: Remembering the biggest goal of Casey Cizikas' career

New York Islanders v Boston Bruins - Game Two
New York Islanders v Boston Bruins - Game Two / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New York Islanders early exit in the Stanley Cup Finals illustrated how thin the difference is between winning and losing in the National Hockey League. A bad bounce, a blown call, a hit post can change the direction of a series and the narrative of an entire season.

And sometimes, someone just needs to make a play.

In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Islanders dropped Game 1 of their second-round series against the Boston Bruins. The Isles held a 3-1 lead after two periods and maintained it more than halfway through the third period. Patrice Bergeron scored at 10:34 to cut the lead to one, and then Brad Marchand tied the game on the power play with just under five minutes to play.

The Islanders were reeling and their hopes of returning to Nassau Coliseum with a split were in serious danger. The Islanders had won a pair of games in OT already during the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins and were going to need to do it again.

The teams exchange chances during OT when Boston defenseman Jeremy Lauzon kept the puck in at his blueline but then shot it off the skate of a teammate, turning it over to Cizikas. Zeeker raced in with speed down the middle of the ice and down the slot. He released a high, rising shot over the blocker of Boston goaltender Tuuka Rask for the game-winner sending the bench into a frenzy and the series back to Long Island tied.

"Just skate as fast as I can and get a shot off, and I was able to beat him," said Cizikas, who scored his first playoff goal since GM4 against the Washington Capitals in 2015. It was his first career overtime goal and his first playoff goal of any type since April 15, 2015, vs. Washington in the regular season.

"This is a character win," coach Barry Trotz said after the game. "There is no one that has bigger character in our dressing room and is more loved than Casey [Cizikas]. When he came in, our room exploded with guys hugging him."