1. Beauvillier: The Last, Last Goal at the Coliseum
The true last hoorah for the Coliseum would come with the second straight Eastern Conference Finals run for the Isles coming in the 2020-21 season. It may have ended in nearly the same exact result as the previous season, by losing to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Islanders provided possibly the most fun and memorable playoff run for their fans since 1993.
With the 2020 season being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it forced the delayed Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played in a quarantine bubble, so the excitement had to come from fans' couches at home, and not in a packed, loud, and obnoxious (in a good way) experience at the home arena. And, let's face it, cheering for your team while locked up at home when there weren't even sounds of fans coming through your speakers, is definitely not the ideal way to watch your team go on a long playoff run.
This 2021 run made both older Islanders fans relive and younger fans experience for the first time what a great playoff run feels like. The Islanders had to go through the rival Penguins yet again and then the Boston Bruins to get to the conference finals again, finishing them both off in six-games. The atmosphere at The Coliseum was unmatched, and those matchups provided a foreshadowing of what was to come against Tampa bay.
The Islanders played a more complete series against them than the year prior, in 2020 they just did not look ready to take down such a strong Lightning team, which got even stronger before the 2021 series. Their core of Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy were all red hot and could not be cooled off in 2020, and were without captain Steven Stamkos then as well.
This series was much closer than the last one, with the Isles splitting the first four games with Tampa, in large part to Ryan Pulock's heroic blocked shot off of Ryan McDonough to save a game four win. After getting absolutely demolished by a score of 8-0 in game five to go down 3-2, they returned to Uniondale in what looked like it could be the true goodbye for the Islanders and the Coliseum. The Lightning took an early 2-0 lead, but Eberle and Scott Mayfield would give the Islanders life and get them to overtime.
It would only take until 1:08 of play until the game was won, and the Islanders would be destined for game seven in Tampa Bay. Lightning forward Blake Coleman would give the puck away to Beauvillier, and with a quick flick of the wrist shot the puck over the shoulder of Vasilevskiy to send the Coliseum into one of its biggest celebrations maybe of all time. Beers and rally towels were thrown onto the ice during the mayhem, but of course, a little Long Island confetti never hurt anybody.
"Feels amazing, to be honest. That building going into overtime was smelling like cigarettes, and now it smells like beers. I mean, That place was going crazy. Everyone's happy, we're going back to Tampa, and obviously huge effort from our team today."- Anthony Beauvillier
Considering the implications that this game had, of being an absolutely pivotal win to help the Islanders reach their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1984. Unfortunately, they would end up falling to the Lightning in game seven 1-0, with the one goal being the only shorthanded goal they allowed all season long. Even though they didn't get the result the fans would have liked, this was still a playoff run that delivered memories not to be forgotten anytime soon and gave the Coliseum a fitting farewell with the fans leaving the arena satisfied with the triumphant game-six victory.