The 3 NY Islanders games you most wish had different outcomes in team history

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven
New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Game 7 2021 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals vs Tampa Bay

This is the clear game for a generation of Islanders fans.

For the second consecutive year, and less than 12 months after they met in the Edmonton bubble, the Islanders and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning met in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. After being embarrassed and losing 8-0 in Game 5, the Islanders had forced the decisive game after winning Game 6 on Anthony Beauvillier's OT-winning goal that ended up being a proper send-off for the Old Barn in Uniondale.

After an even first period, Yanni Gourde scored a short-handed goal off a nifty pass from Anthony Cirelli at 1:49 of the second period to give the Lighting the lead. From there, the defending champs clamped down and played stellar in front of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped all 18 Islander shots as they desperately searched for the equalizer in the third period.

What makes this loss so painful even years later is that if the Islanders had found a way to dethrone the defending champions that night, they would've had home ice and been favored against a good but not great Montreal Canadiens team that would lose to the Lightning in five games. It was an opportunity that may never present itself again, and we knew it at the time.

While we look back fondly at the Barry Trotz era, the legacy of many of the same core players that remain on Long Island would've been forever changed by a win on that night. Instead of being Stanley Cup champions, the group now runs the risk of never getting closer to immortality than they did in 2021 in Tampa Bay. If there is one game they'd wish to have back, they'd all say this one, as it was what likely stood between them and hoisting the Stanley Cup.