There will always be that outlier, that contrarian who sees it differently.
But in formulating the list of the top 10 goals over 46 seasons of Islanders history, the top two certainly seem to be slam-dunk, no-brainers.
1. May 24, 1980: Bobby Nystrom
The first, of course, is the most iconic moment in franchise history. Bobby Nystrom sealed the Islanders’ first Stanley Cup – the first of four straight – in overtime of Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 24, 1980, at Nassau Coliseum.
Lorne Henning, who, like Nystrom, played for the Islanders in their expansion season of 1972-73, took control of a loose puck at the red line, circled and found John Tonelli in the neutral zone. Tonelli carried the puck over the blue line toward the top of the right circle before feeding Nystrom cutting to the crease for a backhander past goalie Pete Peeters at 7:11 of the first overtime for a 5-4 win. Much bedlam ensued.
2. April 11, 1975: J.P. Parise
The second goal on this list was a coming-of-age moment for the Islanders and the start of a bitter rivalry with the Rangers. J.P. Parise’s goal 11 seconds into overtime in Game 3 of the first-round series on April 11, 1975 at Madison Square Garden eliminated the perennial Cup-contending Rangers. At the time, it was the fastest overtime goal in NHL history.
Jude Drouin, like Parise a key midseason acquisition from the Minnesota North Stars, collected a loose puck near the right corner and found Parise at the far post, where he beat Eddie Giacomin for the 4-3 win. The goal sent the two franchises’ fortunes in opposite directions.
3. April 18, 1987: Pat LaFontaine
Pat LaFontaine’s slap shot from just inside the blue line finally ends the Easter Epic as the visiting Islanders eliminate the Washington Capitals, 3-2, at 8:47 of the fourth overtime of Game 7 of their first-round series. The game began on Saturday evening, yet it was 1:58 a.m. on Easter when LaFontaine beat goalie Bob Mason.
4. April 11, 1980: Ken Morrow
Ken Morrow’s slap shot from inside the blue line beat Los Angeles Kings goalie Mario Lessard at 6:55 of overtime in Game 3 of their best-of-five first-round series. It gave the Islanders a 2-1 series lead after they entered the third period trailing, 3-1, and was a crucial moment on their run to their first Cup.
5. April 13, 1982: John Tonelli
Tonelli’s extraordinary effort at 6:19 of overtime in Game 5 of the Islanders’ best-of-five first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins lifted them to a 4-3 win at the Coliseum to keep alive their drive for a third straight Cup. Tonelli, who had tied the score at 17:39 of the third period, brought the puck into the zone, retrieved it behind the net, found Nystrom at the crease and banged the rebound past goalie Michel Dion.
6. April 24, 2016: John Tavares
John Tavares’ wraparound backhander past Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo at 10:41 of the second overtime in the decisive Game 6 of their first-round series at Barclays Center gave the Islanders their first playoff series win since 1993. Tavares had tied the game at 19:06 of the third period.
7. Feb. 20, 1982: John Tonelli
Tonelli’s shot from the left at 19:13 of the third period beat Colorado Rockies goalie Chico Resch, his former teammate, for a 3-2 victory at the Coliseum as the Islanders established an NHL record with their 15th straight win.
8. Jan. 24, 1981: Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy became the second player in NHL history to notch 50 goals in 50 games – the Canadiens’ Maurice Richard had done it in 1944-45 – in a 7-4 win over the Quebec Nordiques at the Coliseum. Bossy got No. 49 on the power play at 15:50 of the third period and No. 50 at 18:31.
9. May 14, 1993: David Volek
David Volek took Ray Ferraro’s feed on a two-on-one at 5:16 of overtime for a 4-3 win as the visiting Islanders eliminated the two-time defending Cup champion Penguins in Game 7 to advance to the NHL semifinals for the first time since 1984.
10. April 24, 2002: Shawn Bates
Shawn Bates’ penalty-shot goal against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph earned the Islanders a 4-3 win in Game 4 at the Coliseum as they evened the first-round series at two games apiece. The Maple Leafs won in seven.