Islanders’ Matt Martin delivers while missing Esiason wedding

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When someone says “Islanders,” many things can come to mind. Good stuff: a historic dynasty, Nassau Coliseum. And even bad stuff: Mike Millbury, John Spano and Barclays Center.

But perhaps nobody represents the Islanders more than depth forward Matt Martin. The 32-year-old has proudly donned the blue and orange crest for 10 seasons spanning across two tenures. And Saturday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup semifinals, he had one of his best moments yet.

Martin scored a goal on a silky backhander in the Islanders’ 3-2 win at the Coliseum, to help tie the series against the Lighting at 2-2. He corralled a loose puck, patiently skated to his right and sent a backhander over goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shoulder.

Earlier in the shift, the gritty veteran did what he often does. He took a puck off his chest, showing his toughness, then made up for a missed scoring chance, showing his perseverance.

It sent the home crowd into a frenzy, and it sent another crowd into a frenzy, too — at brother-in-law Gunnar Esiason’s wedding.

Matt Martin
Matt Martin scored a goal during the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Lightning in Game 4 on Saturday.
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“[The Esiasons] are a hockey family. They are having a great time watching us play,” Martin said. “Obviously, I’m very happy with the position we are in. We’ve been chasing this for a long time. My heart is obviously with them, but here as well, and I am happy we could get a win tonight.”

Esiason and Darcy Cunningham were being married as the puck dropped in Game 4. Martin, husband of WFAN host and former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason’s daughter Sydney, was going to be a groomsman, but the game changed his plans.

“They’ll still have a great night, and obviously really happy for them and what they’re about to experience in their young lives and, at the same time, extremely focused on what we’ve got going on here,” Martin said prior to the series. “This is what we play all year for so we’re excited to continue this journey.”

The wedding was scheduled before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the family thought the NHL playoffs would be long over by this time. When the schedule changed, Martin kept an eye on whether he’d be busy on his brother-in-law’s big day, and he was.

Though Martin was miles away, he enhanced the monumental celebration, giving his family something else to laugh, cry and cheer about, like he usually does.

“It was mom’s birthday [June 17]. Father’s day is tomorrow. Gunnar and Darcy’s wedding is today,” Martin said. “I told my mom I would get her a goal the other night and didn’t. I was able to get her an assist and she was happy with that. Obviously, I am very happy for Gunnar and Darcy.”

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