As the Islanders skated off the UBS Arena ice on Friday, handshake lines finished and last vestiges of the crowd clearing out, the reality in front of them was clear as day.
They had lost a winnable Game 6, 2-1 to the Hurricanes on home ice with Paul Stastny ending their season in overtime.
They had lost a winnable series, blowing leads in both Game 2 and Game 6 that will haunt them for the entire offseason.
And they might have lost their best chance of an extended playoff run with this core of players.
“One-goal leads in the playoffs are just not safe,” Mathew Barzal said in a dead-quiet locker room, repeating a mantra the Islanders learned in the first round to their chagrin.