Sunday’s matinee was the first playoff game at Nassau Coliseum since April 18, 2007. Yet, the 16,170 that packed the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike did not need a tutorial on how to create a playoff atmosphere.
The Coliseum crowd roared throughout Game 3, and the decibel levels grew exponentially after the Islanders scored the first two goals of the game and the final two goals in regulation.
It was a reminder of the fervor Islanders fans have for their team and for a product worthy of their support.
“It was fantastic,” Tavares said. “People here are the most passionate hockey people I’ve ever seen. They have a lot of pride [and] love the tradition of the New York Islanders. We fed off that and we’re excited for them coming up in Game 4.”
More to do
The Penguins have scored 11 goals in the first three games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
But head coach Dan Bylsma is not impressed.
“We think we can play better,” Bylsma said after the 5-4 overtime win in Game 3 Sunday afternoon.
Eight Penguins finished with at least one point, led by Sidney Crosby (three assists) and Chris Kunitz (two goals and an assist), both of whom authored three-point outings.
“We haven’t played our best,” Bylsma said. “We need to do a better job.”
For starters, Bylsma is concerned the chemistry between the team and trade-deadline acquisitions Brendan Morrow, Jarome Iginla and Douglas Murray isn’t quite there. Morrow finished with three shots on goal in 18:03 of ice time. Iginla had a goal and attempted seven shots in 17:06. Murray tallied a goal and four shot attempts in 20:43.
“There is some of that learning [how] to play together,” Iginla said. “There’s still better hockey from our team.”
Looking on the bright side
Professional sports are a bottomline business. Effort is nice, but wins and losses are the final determining factor in all decisions.
The Islanders are acutely aware of the fact they trail the top-seeded Penguins 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
The Eastern Conference eighth seed is also extremely aware of what they have accomplished over the first 188:44 of the series, and specifically in the third period Sunday afternoon.
The Islanders outshot Pittsburgh 13-3, and outscored the Atlantic Division champions 2-0, in the final regulation period to force overtime.
“I think we outshot them much of the game,” John Tavares said. Tavares’s off-wing goal 10:48 into the third tied the game at 4-4. “We had a lot of puck possession, creating opportunities. We were playing physical, [and] didn’t make it easy for them. We got pucks in, got pucks to the net, moving our feet, being difficult to defend. I think we built that the last two games and we have to keep understanding those are the things that are giving us success, giving us a chance to win some games.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.