"It's one of the greatest moments in my hockey career," Bates said on Saturday, when the Isles honored alumni spanning across different decades. Bates and former enforcer Eric Cairns represented players from the 2000s.
Bates' notorious goal came in the closing minutes of the third period in a tie game between the Maple Leafs and Isles. Bates was driving to the net when Bryan McCabe tripped him up and the officials awarded a penalty shot. Bates, who had been a major impact player in Game 3 of the series, riffled a shot over Curtis Joseph's right shoulder and gave the Islanders a 4-3 lead.
Sending the Nassau Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.
"There was so much going through my head and my mind I didn't really get to sit down and listen to [the crowd noise] to be honest," Bates explained.
Islander legend Ken Morrow had been with the team through four Stanley cups and said that the Bates penalty shot was the loudest he heard Nassau Coliseum. "I've never heard the building louder then when Shawn scored that penalty shot goal," Morrow said.
That was something that surprised Bates.
"That's funny because they won four Stanley Cups," Bates said. "To hear that from a Stanley Cup Champion is unbelievable."
The 2002 playoffs was the first time the Islanders had qualified for the postseason since 1994. Nassau Coliseum took on an electric atmosphere for every game of that series and produced a true home-ice advantage. The Isles routed the Leafs in games 3 and 6, along with their win in Game 4.
Eric Cairns also had one his most memorable moments in that series when he dropped the gloves with Shayne Corson in Game 6. The Islander tough guy TKO'd Corson to raucous applause.
Caring left the ice holding his finger in the air as the fans cheered.
"That wasn't premeditated at all," Cairns said about his gesture as he went to the dressing room after the fight. "In my head it was reaction thing. It was the sixth game of the series and we were winning, and I wanted to purely salute the fans at that point. It was a reaction and they deserved to be saluted. I want to obviously bring the next series back. I wanted to win Game 7 and bring that series back.
"I wanted the fans to know how much they meant to us."
This years run in the playoffs may challenge the energy level in the old barn back in 2002. With the team set to relocate to Brooklyn next season, any home playoff game will certainly have a raucous atmosphere.
Bates was honored that the team brought him back for one more visit before they closed up shot at Nassau Coliseum.
"I feel like we've been a big part of the organization," he said. "I know Eric feels that way. I just want to say thanks to the organization...for bring us back. I think it's tremendous that they're keeping us involved."