The Isles and Pittsburgh Penguins will meet in the playoffs for the fourth time, and if the first three games were any indication, we were in for a remarkable two weeks of hockey. For the second time in three years, the New York Islanders terminated Pittsburgh Penguins studs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, scored critical goals, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Islanders shut down Penguins team
New York Islanders

Brock Nelson scored twice in New York’s three-goal second period, and the Islanders managed to beat Pittsburgh 5-3 in Game 6 on Wednesday night, advancing to the second round against Boston.

“This is a special place, a special group,” Nelson said. “Everybody wants to go out there and win and compete for a Stanley Cup and raise it, so to be seeing some progress and getting close, it’s awesome. It’s fun.”

Islanders shut down Penguins game
Pittsburgh Penguins

Brief History:

1975 Quarter-Finals: 

After beating the Rangers in OT on JP Parise’s goal, the Isles lose the next three games to Pittsburgh. In fact, the Penguins lead 3-0 in all three games and never trailed. The Isles, on the other hand, flipped the tables and completed the epic comeback in seven games. Ed Westfall’s third-period goal was the Islanders’ sole goal in Game 7.

1982 Patrick Division Semi-Finals: 

The two-time champion Islanders (who had a 15-game winning run in the season opener) were big favorites and thrashed the Penguins 8-1 and 7-2 in Games 1 and 2.

1993 Patrick Division Final: 

The two-time champion Penguins (who had a 17-game win streak in the regular season thanks to OT) were big favorites, especially with the Islanders missing Pierre Turgeon due to Dale Hunter’s hit from behind. After falling behind 1-0 in game one, the Isles recovered for a 3-2 victory, but Penguins victories in games two and three gave Pittsburgh the series lead.

The rivalry between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins stretches back to 1975 when the third-year Islanders rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs and has since become a sports trivia classic.

The rivalry has recently become considerably more one-sided, with the Penguins habitually utilizing the Islanders as their own personal in-division punching bag (seriously, they built a statue about it). Even when Pittsburgh went bankrupt for the second (or third? fourth?) time in the early and mid-2000s, the average Islanders were never good enough to take advantage of them.

I’m sure that at the end of this playoff series, both Islanders and Penguins supporters will have a fresh set of grievances to deal with for the next several years. I just hope we can all maintain our sense of humor in the face of them.

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