Postseason venue plan spices up Islanders-Oilers game
The New York Islanders have known for almost four months that Saturday's game against the Edmonton Oilers would be their final scheduled home contest of the regular season at Barclays Center.
On Friday, the Islanders found out just what they have to do to play again this season at Barclays. The task of playing more games there will officially begin when the Islanders face the Oilers in the first of two clashes between the teams over a five-day span.
The Islanders were off Friday after beating the host Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-0, on Thursday. The Oilers will be looking to salvage the second game of a back-to-back road set after falling Friday to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1.
The idea that the Islanders might have to figure out where to host playoff games was unimaginable not too long ago. New York missed the postseason by 17 points last season and then lost captain John Tavares, who left as a free agent for the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1.
But the Islanders, under the new management team of president Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz, have overcome a slow start (14-12-4 through Dec. 12) to go 20-5-2 in their last 27 games and surged into first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders announced Friday that any first-round games will be played at Nassau Coliseum, which was the team's home from its founding in 1972 until the 2015-16 season, when the franchise moved to Barclays Center.
According to a statement issued by the team, if the Islanders advance, all subsequent "home Islanders games will take place at Barclays Center, reflecting that the Nassau Coliseum does not qualify as an NHL major league facility."
On Saturday, the Islanders will be looking to maintain the play that made it possible to have to figure out where they'll need to be in May and beyond.
New York has allowed the fewest goals in the NHL (131) and has surrendered three goals or fewer in 16 straight games.
Such a stingy defense may not be the cure for what ails the Oilers, who have lost three straight and nine of 10 (1-7-2) to fall seven points behind the Minnesota Wild in the race for the Western Conference's final wild card.
Edmonton has scored just four goals in the last three games and has been limited to three goals or fewer seven times in the last 10 games.
The Oilers may have a new face in goal Saturday night after making a trade late Friday night in which they sent goalie Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers for goalie Anthony Stolarz.
Talbot, who sat Friday in favor of Mikko Koskinen, was likely in line to start against the Islanders.
Stolarz or Koskinen are likely to oppose Islanders number one goalie Robin Lehner, who didn't play Thursday, when Thomas Greiss recorded the shutout by stopping all 31 shots he faced.
Lehner made his most recent appearance Tuesday, when he took the loss after making 19 saves as New York fell to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1.
The possible Barclays Center finale marks the last home game for the Islanders before a three-game western Canada road trip that includes a game against the Oilers next Thursday night.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 16, 2019