Glenn Healy is happy he no longer can be referred to as the goalie on the last Islanders team to win a playoff series. The Islanders’ top postseason scorer that spring, Ray Ferraro, is eager to retire his stock answer whenever he was asked about the 23-year drought.
“My standard line was,” Ferraro said, “if the last time that the Islanders won a series I was involved in the play, it’s been too long.”
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All of that changes because the Islanders beat the Panthers in double overtime Sunday night to — finally — win a series. They hadn’t done that since 1993, when they surprisingly made it to the conference finals on a Game 7 overtime goal by David Volek.
It was Ferraro who passed Volek the puck, a moment Ferraro said Monday was the “absolute highlight” of his career because of the magnitude of the upset. Volek’s goal defeated the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, featuring Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. They did it despite having lost their leading scorer, Pierre Turgeon, to an injury, courtesy of a Dale Hunter cheap shot in the previous series against Washington.
“If you wrote our lineup on the board next to the Penguins’, zero out of a hundred would have picked the Islanders,” Ferraro said. “And that of course was no ordinary team. That was a powerhouse.”
But of course no one could have foreseen that it would be another 23 years before this franchise would win another playoff series. Or that it would come in a new arena in Brooklyn.
Healy, a television analyst for Sportsnet in Canada, said he made it home after covering the Capitals-Flyers game Sunday afternoon in time to watch Game 6 between the Panthers and Islanders. He’s happiest for Islanders fans that the postseason streak is over.
“Oh totally, yeah,” Healy said. “You know what? That was too long. Too long. The fans deserved better. And they’re getting it now.”
Ferraro had a front-row seat to the victory at Barclays Center as a part of the NBCSN crew that broadcast the game nationally. He said Islanders fans who recognized him before the game considered it a good omen that someone from the ’93 team was on hand.
“Put it this way,” Ferraro said. “If us guys from ’93 are the reference point, it’s time that it changed. And good for them.”
Ferraro said he could sense all game that the Islanders fans were “just waiting to cheer.” Although he knows firsthand that players on the ice are too focused to pay much attention to the crowd, he thinks this was one instance when fan anticipation rubbed off on some Islanders.
“When I was interviewing [John] Tavares on the ice after the game, you could just see the excitement in his eyes,” Ferraro said. “You know when the guys go to center ice and the fans do that ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ it was just so loud. He was a foot from me and I could barely hear what his answers were.”
Healy said he sees similarities between the ’93 team and this one, mainly youth and spunk. Ferraro sees another similarity — the guy in goal playing above expectations.
“As far as what happens against Tampa, can [Thomas] Greiss play like that again?” Ferraro said. “Glenn Healy, nobody thought he would play like he did against Pittsburgh. He was outstanding. We wouldn’t have won that series without him.
“Why can’t Greiss do it again? He just did it once.”