The clock officially began ticking Saturday on the New York Islanders' time in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday night, the Islanders will look to move closer to playing postseason games at Nassau Coliseum and begin to say goodbye to Barclays Center with an Eastern Conference clash against the Montreal Canadiens.
Both teams last played Saturday, when the host Islanders fell to the Boston Bruins 4-0 at Nassau Coliseum while the Canadiens edged the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime.
Moments before the Islanders faced off against the Bruins, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman appeared at a news conference at Nassau Coliseum to announce that the Islanders will play all playoff games this season at the arena affectionately known on Long Island as "the Barn," as well as their entire schedule -- regular season and any postseason games -- at the Uniondale, N.Y., facility next season.
The Islanders plan to move into a new hockey-specific arena at the Nassau/Queens border by the start of the 2021-22 season. They originally played at Nassau Coliseum from the franchise's birth in 1972 through the 2014-15 season, after which the team entered an "ironclad" 25-year lease to play at Barclays Center.
But Islanders players never liked the ice conditions at Barclays -- which was built for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and features plastic heating pipes instead of the metal ones used in other NHL arenas -- and fans loathed the longer commute as well as the amount of obstructed view seats and off-center scoreboard. The Islanders began splitting their home schedule between their old and new arenas last season, shortly after plans were announced for the new home.
The game against the Canadiens will be the penultimate game in Brooklyn for the Islanders, who are scheduled to host the Carolina Hurricanes at Barclays on March 22.
"We will get to be normal again, where you know where you're going every game," Islanders head coach Barry Trotz told reporters following practice Monday. "Sometimes normal's good."
Of course, without a turn in fortunes, the Islanders, who are tied for one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference with the Columbus Blue Jackets, won't have to worry about playing games anywhere in mid-April and beyond. New York has lost seven of its last nine (2-5-2), including three straight to a trio of red-hot teams in the New York Rangers, the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues and the NHL-best Bruins.
"We've played some really good teams and we've put periods or parts of periods together where you're going toe-to-toe in a man's game," Trotz said. "So if you stick with it, I know it's turning."
The Canadiens will look to play spoiler for a second straight game after slowing the postseason push by the Hurricanes, who are three points behind the Islanders and Blue Jackets.
Montreal will also be hoping to avoid the third-period issues that have plagued the team the last three games. The Canadiens squandered a 3-1 third-period lead Saturday before Jeff Petry scored the game-winner 52 seconds into overtime. Two nights earlier, the visiting Rangers scored five unanswered goals in the final 21:26, including four goals in the third period, to earn a 5-2 win.
"We just have to find a way to close these things out without giving up goals late," Petry said afterward.
--Field Level Media
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