Islanders Battle Back Late, But Caps Take It In Shootout, 3-2

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders skates off the ice as goalie Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after the Capitals won 3-2 in a shootout at Verizon Center on February 21, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

TODAY’S RECAP

The Islanders came into today’s early afternoon start with a chance to put some distance between them and one of the team’s that is chasing them in the division, the Washington Capitals. Just as the other three games between the two teams have been this season, this was a close one. The Isles entered this game 2-1-0 vs the Caps this season. Due to NHL bookkeeping, the Caps were 1-0-2 vs. the Islanders. The Isles, despite winning two of the three games, had the same amount of points in the season series. They left the game losing just a single point to the Caps, after a 3-2 shootout defeat, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

The last game between the two clubs in the regular season turned out to be a largely defensive battle. The Islanders would get on the board first from an unlikely source, Travis Hamonic. The Isles’ defenseman has not scored in 32 games, but was able to rip one past Braden Holtby 7:41 into the first to give the Islanders the 1-0 lead. Between periods Shannon Hogan interviewed Hamonic. She told Travis that he was the fourth Isles defender to score a goal in the last two games. Hamonic responded jokingly, “I just felt like I had to keep up.” The Isles already have more goals from their defenseman than they did all of last year.

The Capitals would not go away quietly though. The Islanders have been having late period issues as of late, and it showed again today. With just 41 seconds left in the period, Matt Niskanen ripped one past Chad Johnson to tie the game at 1.

The second period was largely defensive, as the teams totaled 17 shots on goal. There was a scary moment in the period when John Tavares was skating towards the Isles’ goal line to retrieve the puck on an icing. He was tapped from behind by the Capitals’ Tom Wilson and went crashing into the boards. He was able to brace himself for the crash and did cushion the blow with his hands. He was able to get up, shake it off and take the next faceoff.

We would stay tied until late in the third period. With 5:34 to go in the third, Eric Fehr was left all alone in the slot, and he made the Isles pay by ripping one past Chad Johnson. The Capitals would take a 2-1 lead, and seemingly had the game locked up.

But, the Islanders just don’t quit. With about a minute left, and the Isles with the empty net, there was a scrum in front of the net. The puck came to John Tavares, but he didn’t get his best shot off and he rang it off the post. The puck flew up in the air, and it was held by Holtby. You had to figure that was the Isles’ best opportunity. But, their best was yet to come. They wouldn’t give up and kept the pressure on Washington. John Tavares, who always seems to be there when the game is on the line, was at it again. With the clock winding down past 50 seconds to go, Tavares ripped one on net from the right side. Holtby let up a big, juicy rebound, and Ryan Strome was there to bang it home with 47.8 seconds to go in the third period. No matter what happened next, the Isles knew they had a much deserved road point.

at Verizon Center on February 21, 2015 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 21: R. Strome #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates with teammates N. Leddy #2 and A.Lee #27 against the Washington Capitals during the third period of their 3-2 shootout loss at Verizon Center on February 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

The overtime period was pretty much dominated by Washington, who was obviously fired up by the Islanders beating Holtby late. The Caps outshot the Isles 6-1 in overtime. But, neither team would tally, so on to the shootout we would go. First man up for Washington was Evgeny Kuznetsov . He would make some moves back and forth heading to the net, finally faking out Chad Johnson and putting one past him. That is all the Caps would need. The NHL’s shootout king, Frans Nielsen was the Isles’ first shooter but with a chance to lift it over Holtby’s outstretched glove, he flubbed it and the puck tricked harmlessly to the side of the net.

So, the Capitals would take it 3-2 in the shootout. As much as you would like to have seen the Islanders complete the come back, they did get a much earned point. They would lose for just the second time in the shootout this season. They have not lost in overtime once this year.

“It was a tough game, there wasn’t a ton of room out there today,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “To come in here and get a point is a good feeling.”

You can’t really fault Chad Johnson. He had his second straight solid game, and he may finally be rounding into shape for the Islanders. It couldn’t come at a better time, as the Jaroslav Halak will see all the action in the playoffs, and a good Johnson could give him some needed rest.

“We battled back in this game – we didn’t surrender much to a good hockey club,”  Capuano said. “Ryan came up big for us.”

Goalie Chad Johnson echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“We battled hard,” Johnson said. “They played a really good game and made it tough for us to generate anything, but we just stuck with it. I thought we played well. I felt good and I think everyone else felt good getting a point.”

The point gained puts the Islanders (39-19-2) at 80 points for the season with 22 games left to go. This also vaults the Isles back into first overall, alone, in the East. The Islanders will be back at it tomorrow at 6PM against Vancouver, to start a four-game homestand. Jaroslav Halak will be looking to become the first Islander ever with 33 wins in a season.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Aside from fighting majors, there were just two penalties called in the game. Each team went 0/1 on the power play.
  • The Isles badly outshot Washington in the third 18-7, and they edged them in shots overall 32-27.
  • The Isles’ big hitters came out today for sure. They outhit Washington 41-29.
  • The Isles blocked 27 shots, the Capitals blocked 24.
  • The Caps edged the Isles in the faceoff circle 38-34.
  • The Isles missed their opportunity to become the first team to 40 wins. Nashville is also sitting at 39.
  • Colin McDonald saw just 8:42 of ice time, whereas Travis Hamonic saw 25:17
  • The Isles were better in the giveaway department. They only turned the puck over eight times

INSIGHT’S THREE STARS

  1. Evgeny Kuznetsov-The 22-year-old Center tallied the game winner in the shootout.
  2. Braden Holtby-The Caps netminder looked sharp in turning away 30 Islanders’ shots, as well as all three in the shootout.
  3. Travis Hamonic-The Islanders’ defenseman scored for the first time in 32 games.

STATISTICS

Screenshot 2015-02-21 16.11.41

 

GAME VIDEO

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