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Islanders Party Like it’s 1993

John Tavares is coming up big. Photo by del Tufo
John Tavares is coming up big. Photo by del Tufo

Leslie Monteiro has a great take on how the Islanders were able to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Good things come for those who wait.
The Islanders and their fans waited for 23 years. 1993 was the last time the Islanders won a playoff series.

The Islanders ended their playoff series woes last night by taking a 2-1 double overtime victory against the Panthers, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It wasn’t going to be easy to advance to the next round. The Islanders had to earn it. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s fitting they have to do it the hard way by taking it to double overtime against a tenacious Panthers team that could have won the series.

It’s just right John Tavares scored the game-winning goal to help his team get past the first round.

This was the moment the Islanders have been waiting for when they drafted Tavares in 2009 as the No. 1 player in the draft. This was the moment he dreamed of as a kid growing up.

It’s about time Tavares came up with a true signature moment. Yes, he had one last year when he scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Capitals in Game 3 and he tied the game with 52.3 seconds remaining this year in Game 6, but this does not come close to what he did last night. This moment ended the Islanders’ playoff series drought. It was the best moment of his career.

This goal will now get him recognized nationally, internationally and locally. He highlighted the Islanders win by ending it. It has cemented his status as one of the top five players in the league along with being one of the top five athletes to play in New York right now.

Tavares needed this moment more than anyone. He is in his best years of his career where he has to deliver in playoff games. He was hyped as the next Wayne Gretzky. He has now validated his status.

No one can ever question his ability to come up big anymore. Last night and this series shut up critics like myself once in for all.

The Islanders captain is having a good run in the postseason to the point he can win the Conn Smythe Trophy with the way he is going. He has had five goals and four assists in the six playoff games this postseason, and he played a role in nine of the Islanders’ 15 playoff goals.

It’s easy to make a case for Tavares to be the MVP of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, but that goes to Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss.

His goaltending performance is why the Islanders advanced to the next round.  He was good in Games 1, 2 and 3, and he was great in Games 4, 5 and 6. He put the Islanders in a position to win in Games 5 and 6.

In the six games he played against the Panthers in the playoffs, he had 221 saves with a 1.79 GAA and a .944 save percentage.

He was as great in Game 6 as he was in Game 5. The Panthers continued to shoot pucks at him, and he made 41 saves last night. With the way he was making saves in the third period, the feeling was he was not going to be denied. He was in such a zone.

With the way Roberto Luongo played for the Panthers, he couldn’t let up. He was able to handle the challenge of matching the Panthers goaltender.

Greiss’ play along with Tavares gives Islanders hope they can win the Stanley Cup. It’s not crazy to think that way anymore. A hot team can go far in the playoffs, and the Islanders have that going for them.

This moment has been long-time coming for this young team.

The Islanders gave the Capitals all they could handle last year in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and they had their chances to win Game 7. It never happened.

This year, they were determined to get it done. They found a way. They grinded. They had the killer instinct to not play another game against a feisty team with a hot goalie of their own.

Last night showed they have grown up once in for all.

They finally got out of the first round, which was the goal this season.

Now, they can focus on bigger and better things.

Like hoisting Lord Stanley.

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