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Scuffle scuttled quickly by extra police presence at Coliseum

Nassau County Police Department Mounted Units patrol the

Nassau County Police Department Mounted Units patrol the exterior of the Nassau Coliseum before Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs against the Washington Capitals on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Uniondale, N.Y. Security was extra tight due to the possibility of today being the Islanders last game at the Coliseum before moving to Brooklyn. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek) Credit: AP / Kathy Kmonicek

What began as some taunting between two guys in Washington Capitals jerseys and a handful of Islanders fans Saturday quickly began to escalate, and it soon appeared that a fight on the Nassau Coliseum concourse was on the horizon.

Midway through the second intermission, these fans' voices grew louder as they exchanged harsh words. The dozens of people walking nearby on the already crowded concourse stopped to see what was happening.

But before this argument turned into a potential scuffle, endangering themselves and people around them, several Nassau County police officers in plainclothes appeared -- it seemed out of the blue -- and quickly separated the parties.

Two fans were escorted out of the Coliseum.

In the wake of reports of aggressive fan behavior and vandalism at the Islanders' previous playoff games at the Coliseum, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that the league was working with Nassau County about increasing security at Game 6 of this first-round series.

In this specific case, the added police presence paid off.

"All of a sudden, these officers came out of nowhere, lifted their sweatshirts, showed their badges and took care of the situation," said Brian Barteld, 54, of Merrick, who was standing nearby. "I think they were there just watching it take place and decided it was time to take over."

According to Nassau County Police Officer Christopher Barling, there were additional patrols of both uniformed and plainclothes police, as well as the usual officers on horseback. He said there were "no reports of any problems" at the Coliseum.

The plan for increased security came in response to the Coliseum's discovery that several seats were stolen after Game 3 and the complaint of a Capitals fan who said he was doused with beer, was subjected to racist and homophobic chants and had his car keyed and license plate stolen.

There were a handful of Capitals fans at Saturday's game, and those who were approached by a Newsday reporter said they heard nothing more than the typical good-natured barbs a fan expects when he wears an opponent's jersey.

But those fans would not agree to give their names, saying they didn't want to risk being subjected to attacks on social media.

"We're aware of what happened but we're not worried," one said. "It's sports. Everything's been perfectly fine. I just don't want my name associated with this after what's gone on."

Fans by and large seemed too excited about staving off elimination with the uplifting win to try to take home any stolen souvenirs.

This, of course, still might turn out to be the final Islanders game at the Coliseum -- it will be if they lose Game 7 in Washington on Monday night -- and that fact wasn't lost on the fans.

Thousands of Islanders fans stood at their seats after the final horn. Many stopped to take selfies with the ice and banners in the background.

"I love this place," said Michael Durazzo, 23, of Staten Island.

This was a far more festive postgame scene than what some may have feared, given the emotion surrounding the Islanders leaving the Coliseum for Brooklyn next season. Credit the uplifting win for that. If the Islanders had lost, officially ending their time here, Durazzo said he expected raucous fans to refuse to leave, perhaps leading to looting and rioting.

For now at least, the Islanders and the Coliseum live for another day.

Islanders fan Brad Shafran, 39, of East Meadow, said: "I'm leaving here today with nothing but my memories."

New York Sports