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Three best moments in the 2018-19 Islanders season

The 2018-19 New York Islanders season was full of surprises.  Whether it be the Mathew Barzal natural hat trick in Toronto or the improbable comeback win in Winnipeg, the Islanders had many more ups than downs during the season.  They had stretches of incredible play and memories that will last a lifetime.

It’s hard to capture the three best moments of the season because the season is 82 games long and depending on how far you go in the playoffs, at least four more.  I believe that this was the perfect mix of regular season success and playoff success.

 

The return of John Tavares

I could have picked a number of regular season moments, including the ones I mentioned before, but this one particularly stands out to me because it was probably the most important regular season game the Islanders had played in quite a few years.

With the world watching them and all the pressure in the world to win in the return of former captain John Tavares, the Isles took it to the Leafs in a 6-1 blowout.  Now of course there was a ton of backlash, as Islanders fans pelted Tavares with snakes, jerseys and made sure there wasn’t a moment in time when they weren’t heckling him with some sort of chant.

The most impressive part of the game was that they completely dominated the “elite” Maple Leafs and made sure that Tavares stayed off the scoresheet.  It was one of the most fun Islander games to be at and the Coliseum was absolutely rocking for this one.

“Playoffs, baby”

Not enough can be said about how good it felt clinching a playoff berth after a two season absence.  The fans were chanting for Robin Lehner, Robin Lehner was all in on cheering with the fans, and the Islanders clinched their first playoff berth since the 2015-16 season.

The game itself was an impressive one as well, as they completely manhandled a floundering Buffalo Sabres team 5-1.  It was particularly special because it took place on home ice at the Nassau Coliseum, and not on the road or at Barclays Center.

The first round sweep of the Penguins

Now this may be cheating because it’s a collection of moments (or games) but to clarify, the moment the Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in Game 4, that would be the pinnacle of the season.  All season long the Islanders were looked at as pretenders and a fluke, and that continued going into their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins had too much skill, were too good up front and on the PP and the Islanders couldn’t score.  The Penguins managed to score six goals in four games and the Islanders completely stifled them in a 4-0 series sweep.  The Penguins had won two of the past three Stanley Cups so to say that the result was shocking would be an understatement.

 

The Islanders didn’t complete the full success of bringing home a Stanley Cup but their season was filled with unbelievable moments and achievements.  They had a little bit of everything during the season, whether it be redemption, revenge, perseverance or pride.

This Islander team is full of flaws but they came together as a team and created some of these special moments.  If you sat on July 1st and saw what kind of moves Lou Lamoriello was making after John Tavares spurned them, and you would think just like anyone else that the Islanders would fail miserably.

They did the exact opposite and proved that you don’t need to have a team of stars to compete in the NHL.  They did it through hard work, teamwork and defense and there’s a reason why Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello are the best in the business.  Give credit where credit is due, there were plenty of memories to be made during this long and winding season.

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