On the same day that Nassau County announced the final event for Nassau Coliseum before its renovation is set to begin (Billy Joel on Aug. 4), the Islanders seemed to make their own announcement.
Saturday afternoon's contest, they said, will not be the last hockey game in the old building before renovations begin.
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The Islanders need to beat the Capitals Saturday in Game 6 of their playoff series to send it to a seventh game. It hasn't escaped notice in the Isles' room that Saturday could be last call for them on Long Island, but it's not something they're worried about, given the 3-2 series deficit they face.InteractiveVote: What will you miss about Nassau Coliseum?See alsoHow well do you know Nassau Coliseum?
"We have to win," John Tavares said after the Isles' practice at the Coliseum Friday. "We're trying to play for a Stanley Cup. There's a lot with the history, but it's another game. We have to win."
It seems they will have to do that without another regular defenseman. Calvin de Haan left Thursday night's Game 5 in the third period after a shoulder-to-shoulder hit from the Capitals' Troy Brouwer. De Haan, who has had two major shoulder surgeries in recent years, did not practice.
There was no update on his status, so it might be safe to presume he'll be added to an injury list that reads like half a usual starting defense lineup: Travis Hamonic (suspected knee injury) and Lubomir Visnovsky (suspected concussion) already are out.
That could mean the Isles will play two rookies Saturday. Griffin Reinhart made his playoff debut Thursday night, though he played only 2:14 in the second period and likely would have played a similarly small amount in the third had de Haan not gotten hurt. Ryan Pulock took warm-ups Thursday, so he might be the choice over Matt Donovan to take de Haan's spot.
"Our backs are against the wall. We're not going to change anything," Jack Capuano said. "It's more about orchestrating a lineup."
Brock Nelson was a healthy scratch for Game 5 but likely will get back in up front. The Islanders scored seven goals in the first two games of the series, but have only four in the past three, and their power play is 0-for-12 in the series.
"We've got to find a way to score a few more goals. We've got to get to the net. We're not doing that enough," Tavares said. "We didn't play very well [Thursday]."
The Islanders may not be thinking about Game 6 possibly being the last game at the Coliseum, but the 16,170 fans who will be on hand were on their minds. The arena was wall-to-wall noise for the two overtime Games 3 and 4, and the Isles are expecting more of the same.
"It's obviously a do-or-die situation and a game we need to win. We'll need them in a big way [Saturday],'' Matt Martin said.
On the other side, Alex Ovechkin was asked about the prospect of closing down the Coliseum with a victory. "It's our job, you know?" Ovechkin said. "I'm probably going to take a chair."
The Islanders and their fans hope no one takes anything from them Saturday. Joel may be on the docket to close out the old place, but the Islanders want more hockey beyond Saturday afternoon.