(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders will try to keep their 2015 postseason alive when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday in what could be the final game played at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders are facing elimination in this afternoon's Game 6 after losing the last two tests of this best-of-seven set. New York dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at the Coliseum on Tuesday to allow Washington to tie the Eastern Conference quarterfinal at two games apiece and the Capitals grabbed their first lead of the series with Thursday's 5-1 rout in D.C.
Any way you look at it, New York's days on Long Island are numbered as the club will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season. A win for the Isles today would extend the series to Monday, when the clubs are scheduled to meet for Game 7 at the Verizon Center. However, New York needs to win two straight over Washington to advance to the second round and keep playing at the Coliseum, which has been the team's home since the inception of the franchise in 1972.
"We know what it means for our fans," Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey said. "That can't be the last game there. It just can't be the last game for them. We're going to come with our heads on and be ready to play and make sure it's not going to be the last game there."
The Islanders scored first in Game 5, taking a 1-0 lead on Josh Bailey's goal at 5:48 of the first period. However, Washington would kick off a stretch of five straight goals to end the game when Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up at the 9:05 mark of the opening stanza.
Kuznetsov had two goals and an assist to lead the rout, which was the first game in this series to be decided by more than one goal since New York claimed the opener in D.C. by a 4-1 count.
"When I scored and I heard how loud it was in the stadium, I just felt crazy," said Kuznetsov. "I want to say to the fans thanks for coming to the game today. It's louder in our stadium than it was at the Islanders game. I hope we'll see you in the next round."
Karl Alzner and Jason Chimera posted a goal and an assist, and Brooks Laich added a goal for the Capitals. Braden Holtby turned aside 22 shots in the win.
Another win today would get the Capitals to the second round for the first time since 2012, when they beat Boston before losing in the conference quarterfinals against the Rangers.
The Islanders haven't made it out of the first round since 1993.
New York head coach Jack Capuano pulled Jaroslav Halak in Game 5 after he allowed five goals on 35 shots. Michal Neuvirth stopped all six shots he faced in relief.
"I'm not disappointed with the guys," said Capuano. "I mean they battled. We talk about it all the time, and it's coming back to haunt us now. You have to manage the puck."
Isles forward Mikhail Grabovski played for the first time since suffering a concussion on Feb. 19. He had three shots on net in 15 minutes, 38 seconds of ice time.
In other injury news, New York will be without defenseman Travis Hamonic for a seventh straight game since he suffered a lower-body injury in the team's penultimate game of the regular season. Fellow blueliners Calvin de Haan and Lubomir Visnovsky also expect to sit out on Saturday. Visnovsky has been sidelined since suffering a concussion in Game 4, while de Haan left Thursday's contest with an upper-body injury and did not practice on Friday.
Caps centerman Eric Fehr is likely to miss a third straight game after he was injured on a check by Kyle Okposo in the first period of Game 3
The winner of this series will face the New York Rangers in the conference semifinals. The Rangers advanced to the second round on Friday, ousting Pittsburgh in five games with an overtime victory.