Forward Matt Martin was excited by the evening despite the team's tough 2-1 loss. "It was everything I thought it would be and more," Martin said. "The atmosphere was great. The fans were loud. The best place you could possibly play a hockey game is Yankee Stadium, so it’s something I’ll never forget."
Despite temperatures that stayed in the teens and wind chills that were in the single digits, the players said the cold was not a factor once the game started.
"When you move around, you don't feel it," rookie Brock Nelson said of the cold. Nelson scored the only goal for the Islanders late in the second period that briefly put the Isles ahead 1-0.
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald added, "We had some pretty good heaters on the bench and we were able to stay warm."
While the chilly air was not an major issue for the players, there were adjustments that had to be made while playing in the elements.
"I think I had to focus a little bit more, especially when the puck was around the red line," goalie Evgeni Nabokov admitted. "You kind of don’t see it as clear as you want to. I tried to come out a little bit more to see it."
The puck also bounced a lot more for players on both teams. "A lot of times there’s a play you might try to make in a normal game and just due to certain circumstances like the puck bouncing so much you just have to be careful," MacDonald said. "It might not always be the right play."
Captain John Tavares enjoyed playing in an outdoor game, but he was clearly disappointed with the result. "As big and as great as an experience was…it’s tough to look at the big picture." Tavares said. "We played well, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the points we needed."
Still, the players couldn't help but enjoy being a part of the NHL Stadium Series and to play in front of 50,027 fans.
"The whole night was special," Martin said. "You don’t get too many opportunities to play in a game like this, so you take advantage of it while you can. I hope there will be more games like this in the future."
After the experience faded into history, coach Jack Capuano started to look ahead to the Isles' next game Friday night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. With a slight note of frustration, he noted, "It was a great experience. Obviously, we wanted to be on the other [winning] side of it. We’re playing well enough to win, but we’ve got to find a way to win."
All quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.
He is also the host of TheSTN Sports Report, which airs Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET at TheSTN.net/kurtzberg.
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