Islanders clinch final postseason berth to end Penguins' 16-year playoff streak

The Penguins held the longest active playoff streak in North American pro sports.

This marks only the second time in Sidney Crosby's NHL career the Penguins have missed the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For the first time in 16 seasons, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will not be present for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Following the New York Islanders' 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, as well as the 16th and final playoff spot across the NHL, became finalized, with the only seeding left to be determined.

Behind a two-goal night from Brock Nelson, as well as a late insurance marker by Anders Lee to seal matters, the Islanders extinguished Pittsburgh’s slim playoff hopes, punching their first postseason ticket since reaching back-to-back Eastern Conference finals in 2020 and 2021.

New York’s berth also marks the fourth postseason appearance for the scrappy club in five seasons since the 2018-19 campaign, while their 28 playoff wins in that span rank fourth league-wide behind Tampa Bay, Colorado, and Boston.

While the Islanders’ season has concluded with their win over the Canadiens, their first-round opponent remains up in the air until the conclusion of tomorrow’s Panthers vs. Hurricanes matchup.

A Florida Panthers win would give the Islanders the second wild card seed, and send them to Boston for Game 1 next week, while a Carolina Hurricanes win would lock New York into the first wild card spot, where they would face the Hurricanes.

As for the Penguins, their absence marks Sidney Crosby’s first time missing the postseason since his rookie season, as well as the conclusion of North American professional sports’ longest consecutive postseason streak.

Pittsburgh had been in firm control of their destiny heading into Tuesday night, with two apparent soft opponents ahead in the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets on the docket. Picking up at least three of four possible points would have guaranteed them a postseason berth.

Instead, by the time the buzzer sounded on Pittsburgh’s shocking 5-2 loss to Chicago on Tuesday, however, their playoff odds had dropped from 52 percent to 15 percent, and were officially put to bed at the conclusion of New York’s final game.