The Islanders are feeling the love.
The NHL playoffs are being conducted in hub city bubbles without fans in the buildings. But the Islanders are keenly aware of the support they’re receiving as they try for a sweep of their best-of-seven first-round series against the Capitals in Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Scotiabank Arena.
“Our fans on Long Island have been fantastic, sending us a lot of social media stuff,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said on Monday after a full team practice. “We can get behind that. The players look at that. I want to thank them for that.”
In addition to Twitter and Instagram messages, more than $4,000 has been raised through GoFundMe to fly a “Let’s Go Islanders” banner over downtown Toronto.
“I think we can tell a lot of people are tuning in at home,” center Brock Nelson said. “I’m sure a lot of people are missing being at the games just like we miss having them.”
The Capitals’ regulars did not practice on Monday but top-line center Nicklas Backstrom, who has been out since entering concussion protocol following a first-period hit from Islanders captain Anders Lee in Game 1, skated with the extras.
Coach Todd Reirden said he could not be sure if Backstrom participating in Tuesday’s morning skate would be enough to get him into the Game 4 lineup.
“I have to see how he did today,” Reirden said. “We’ll take it day by day.”
Capitals center Nic Dowd was playing for Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate when the Kings became the fourth – and last – NHL team to rally from a 3-0 series deficit, beating the Sharks in the first round and going on to win the Stanley Cup.
“I think it’s pretty challenging,” Dowd said. “I wasn’t really privy to what was going on in that locker room. I honestly don’t think there’s a lot I can pull from that situation.”