There’s no doubt the 2019-20 season proved to be one of the most memorable, and certainly the longest, in Islanders’ history.
There was the good in the deepest playoff run since 1993 and a franchise record for consecutive points via a 15-0-2 streak from Oct. 12-Nov. 23. There was the bad in top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech suffering an Achilles’ tendon injury in pregame, off-ice warmups on Jan. 2. And there was the unsettling in the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the NHL to halt the regular season on March 12 and resume with the postseason on Aug. 1.
Here are five moments that stood out:
Three consecutive standout games during the Islanders’ record-setting point streak. First, they rallied from a three-goal deficit midway through the second period to win a 4-3 shootout at Philadelphia on Nov. 16. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, including the equalizer at 17:56 of the third period, and Jordan Eberle had the deciding shootout goal. Three days later, the Islanders broke the previous team record of 14 games with at least a point by twice rallying from two-goal deficits to win at Pittsburgh, 5-4, on Brock Nelson’s overtime goal. Nelson, with his second goal of the game, also beat the Penguins again in overtime, 4-3, two days later in Brooklyn after Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist tied it with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello had long targeted Jean-Gabriel Pageau as a potential acquisition and pulled off a deal with the Senators at the trade deadline on Feb. 24, immediately inking the center to a six-year, $30 million extension. It didn’t take long for Pageau to prove himself to his new teammates and fans. He scored the Islanders’ first goal in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers on Feb. 25 at Nassau Coliseum after they had fallen behind 2-0. Then, Pageau fought Jacob Trouba after the defenseman leveled an unsuspecting Michael Dal Colle in the third period, earning 17 penalty minutes and instant respect.
The Islanders knew exactly how important their first-round playoff matchup with the Capitals was to coach Barry Trotz, associate coach Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn. Those three had led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018 before joining the Islanders. But the Capitals, on two goals from T.J. Oshie, had taken a 2-0, second-period lead in Game 1. However, the Islanders scored three times in the third period, including the shorthanded winner from Josh Bailey, for a 4-2 win on Aug. 12 at Toronto. It set the tone for the rest of the series, which the Islanders dominated in five games.
The Flyers forced a Game 7 in the second-round series with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 5 and a 5-4 double overtime win in Game 6. But the Islanders rebounded to prevent an awful playoff collapse with a picture-perfect 4-0 win in Game 7 on Sept. 5 at Toronto, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 27 years. Defensemen Scott Mayfield and Andy Greene made it 2-0 in the first period and Thomas Greiss, in the second of his three postseason starts, stopped 16 shots for his first career playoff shutout in his first career Game 7 appearance. He became the first Islanders goalie since Chico Resch in 1975 against the Penguins to have a Game 7 shutout.
The Islanders fell into a 3-1 series deficit against the Lightning in the conference finals but kept their season alive with a heart-stopping, 2-1, double overtime win in Game 5 on Sept. 15 at Edmonton. Goalie Semyon Varlamov, typically stoic in his public persona, released the pent-up emotions with an instantly-iconic, head-first slide in the team’s on-ice celebration after making 36 saves. Eberle scored the winner at 12:30 of the second overtime. But, to get there, the Islanders and Varlamov had to kill off Beauvillier’s four-minute high-sticking penalty on defenseman Mikhail Sergachev at 18:37 of the third period, which carried over to the first overtime.