Isles Lose 4-3 To The Capitals After Shootout
The New York Islanders saw their three-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday night when they surrendered a two-goal lead to the Washington Capitals in a 4-3 shootout loss.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 of 29 shots, while Braden Holtby knocked aside 35 of 38 as well as each shot he faced in the shootout.
The match-up began with plenty of hits and scrappy play, including a fight between Mike Halmo and Tom Wilson. The Caps forward boarded John Persson, prompting Halmo to immediately drop the gloves. Although Wilson earned the victory, Halmo's willingness to stick up for a teammate would give the Islanders the momentum at an early stage of the game.
The first goal of the match-up would come from Cal Clutterbuck with his 12th of the season. Casey Cizikas took a pass from Michael Grabner and appeared to be heading around the Caps net. Instead, he sent a blind backhanded pass up the middle just as he cut around the cage. The puck landed right on Clutterbuck's stick for a shot that would beat Holtby over his blocker.
The score would remain 1-0 as the Isles headed into the second period.
The home team would continue with the momentum during the first half of the middle frame despite allowing a goal just 2:36 into the period. Evgeny Kuznetsov would snap a shot passed Nabokov with Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer getting the assists.
But the Islanders would respond just 1:40 later. Calvin de Haan would dish the puck to Travis Hamonic, who carried the puck through the neutral zone and into the Caps end of the ice. He would find Persson breaking free just above the right hash-marks. Persson's backhanded shot would initially be stopped by Holtby but eventually squeak through his legs for his first NHL goal.
The Islanders would then connect with the man-advantage at the 09:55 mark of the period to provide a two-goal lead just about midway through the game. The power play unit displayed poise and control, carefully moving the puck and waiting for their best opportunity. Eventually, Matt Donovan would send the puck to Josh Bailey at the top of the zone. His pass would end up perfectly on Frans Nielsen's stick for a crisp one-timer that beat Holtby over his glove with his 24th goal of the season.
The Capitals would eventually find a weakness and earn back those two goals before the period concluded.
Both Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward would score less than three minutes apart to tie the game before entering the third period. With Nabokov out of position, Backstrom would easily score on an empty net to put his team within one, thanks to the help of Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson. Ward's goal would be the back breaker of the period as Thomas Hickey's attempt to clear the puck would become a perfect pass to the Capitals forward in the slot, burying an unassisted goal at the 15:01 mark.
There would be no scoring from either team in the third period or overtime, prompting the Isles to return to the shootout.
Nielsen, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson would all be denied by Holtby, with the lone goal coming from Kuznetsov on the Capitals' first attempt.
The Islanders will continue looking to play spoiler tomorrow night as they face the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road.
Notes from the game:
-The Islanders penalty kill was perfect, going five-for-five on the night.
- Calvin de Haan appeared to have injured his left leg during the Capitals' second goal of the game. He also took a shot to the chest while he was down on the ice. He was helped to the Islanders locker room and did not return until the third period. He did not last for more than a few minutes and would end up missing the remainder of the game.
- The Islanders are now 5-0-2 in their last seven games.