Matt Martin had a good excuse for missing his brother-in-law’s wedding Saturday.
The New York Islanders forward was busy scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Nassau Coliseum.
While Martin was playing in Uniondale, New York, Gunnar Esiason, brother of his wife Sydney and son of former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, was marrying Darcy Cunningham in Massachusetts. Boomer Esiason said on his WFAN radio show in New York last week that Martin would’ve been a groomsman if he wasn’t busy trying to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Gunnar Esiason, now 30, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 2 years old. He is director of patient outreach at the Boomer Esiason Foundation.
“Obviously very happy for Gunnar and Darcy,” Martin said. “They’re a hockey family, the Esiasons, and they’re having a great time watching us play and, obviously, very happy for the position that we’re in and obviously know I’ve been chasing this for a long time. So my heart is, obviously, with them and here as well and happy we were able to get a win tonight.”
New York evened the best-of-7 series with Game 5 at Tampa Bay on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Martin lifted a backhand past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to increase New York’s lead to 3-0 with 2:03 remaining in the second period. That turned out to be the game-winner after Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson scored to pull the Lightning within 3-2 in the third period.
It was Martin’s first goal in this postseason after he scored five when the Islanders reached the Eastern Conference Final last season. New York lost to Tampa Bay in six games, and the Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
The goal stood as the game-winner after Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock prevented the Lightning from tying the game with a block at the net with 2.7 seconds left.
“Obviously, a huge play,” Martin said. “We’re not sitting here right now if he doesn’t do that. So, obviously, a game-saving situation.”
Martin scored his first point with an assist on Cal Clutterbuck‘s goal in a 2-1 Game 3 loss Thursday. He said that assist was dedicated to his mother.
“It was my mom’s birthday on the 17th (Thursday), and Father’s Day tomorrow, and then Gunnar and Darcy’s wedding today,” Martin said. “I told my mom I was going to get her a goal the other night and didn’t. I was able to get her an assist and she was happy with that.”