A crowd can change the momentum of a hockey game. The Islanders recognize this.
“It’s something that you go out there, and whether it’s at home or on the road, you feed off that energy,” Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri said before Game 2.
Silencing a road crowd can mean just as much as igniting a home crowd. In Game 1, Amalie Arena was quiet as the Islanders perfected their grueling, physical style of play.
During the regular season, the Islanders were 21-4-3 at home and 11-13-4 on the road. It felt like something was missing when the Islanders played in empty arenas, but with fans back, the road warriors are back, too.
Prior to Game 2, they were 5-2 away from home this postseason.
“It is a little easier to get up for games with the atmospheres you see,” coach Barry Trotz said. “That is the best way to say it. The games are fun. They are very important.”
But the Islanders are not slacking off at Nassau Coliseum, either. They are 4-2 in Uniondale, and eliminated the Penguins and Bruins on home ice in the first two rounds.
Their 5-3 Game 6 win against the Penguins last month was the first series-clinching win since 1993 at Fort Neverlose — a nickname coined after the Islanders were all but unbeatable at home in Stanley Cup games during their dynasty years.
“It’s a special place,” forward Josh Bailey said. “It means so much to our organization and to our fan base. We’re going to stay focused here tonight. When it gets to Thursday I’m sure our fans will be ready to go.”
Home or away, the Islanders are grateful to have fans in attendance. After a trip to Tampa Bay, the series will venture to Hempstead Turnpike.
“It’s exciting,” Bailey said. “To play in front of this many people at this time of the season is a great opportunity.”