The New York Islanders got a firsthand glimpse of their future home Saturday as they played in the first NHL game at the Barclay’s Center. The Islanders will make it their full-time home in the fall of 2015. A total of 14,689 vocal fans made the trip to Brooklyn to see the Isles fall to the New Jersey Devils 3-0.
The game itself was secondary for most fans to the experience of seeing a game at the year old Barclay’s Center. The new building offers a lot of amenities that are not available at the Coliseum and most of the seats have very good sight lines. The historic aspect of the game meant that the fans were very excited and provided a lot more noise than a typical preseason game.
Isles’ Coach Jack Capuano enjoyed the experience at the new building. “It was great. It was the first time we’ve been here besides the practice. The crowd was was into it. It was a great game and it was exciting for our guys.”
The Devils scored once in each period to earn the victory. Jacob Josefson, Patrik Elias and Steve Bernier scored for New Jersey while Cory Schneider made 26 saves to earn the shutout. Schneider has yet to allow a goal during the preseason.
The Islanders struggled on the special teams, allowing one official power play goal and another just seconds after a power play expired. The power play did not look strong although it did have a few quality chances.
“We gave up two power play goals,” Capuano added. “Next week will be a real big week for us as far as getting a little more stride in that area. As we move forward, we’re still in evaluation mode. There’s still jobs to be won.”
The Isles got a bit of a scare when winger Kyle Okposo was injured midway through the third period. He was hit with a stick in the eye and left the game to be stitched up.
“I got high sticked, I guess,” Okposo said after the game. “At the last second I saw the guy’s stick come up so I just closed my eyes. It’s just a couple of stitches, I should be all right.”
But for most of the players, the first game at the franchise’s future home was a special moment. “The atmosphere was great,” Isles’ captain John Tavares said. “It was great to see everybody come out there and give us all that support and welcome the new building.”
The Islanders continue their preseason Sunday night when they take on the Predators in Nashville. Their next home game is Friday night when Nashville comes to visit the Nassau Coliseum.
With the first game at Barclay’s Center out of the way, the Islanders are ready to concentrate on the task at hand: preparing for opening night. “Hopefully now we can just worry about the season,” Tavares said. “Getting ready for October 4th, that’s where our focus needs to be.”