The New York Islanders lost a shootout on Fan Appreciation Night, but more importantly they lost two players who have been positive contributors in this lost season. Michael Grabner and Calvin de Haan each left the game with injuries, while rookie John Persson scored his first NHL goal and point in his fifth NHL game.
At one point the Islanders had a 3-1 lead and looked to be in control of the game, but two bounce-friendly goals in the second half of the second period allowed the Capitals to tie it at 3-3 and ultimately win via shootout.
Basically, the Islanders outshot the Capitals 38-29, but all three Capitals goals were of the ridiculously friendly-bounce variety. If there were anything left on the line in this season, that would really burn.
In the shootout, Frans Nielsen went five hole in the shootout and got it through Braden Holtby's legs, but not cleanly, as the puck scooted wide. Ryan Strome was also stopped, attempting a low gloveside forehand. Brock Nelson tried his mid-stride backhand five hole, but this time the move that has served him well was stopped by Holtby's paddle.
Descriptions of Things that Happened
- de Haan was hurt on a collision in the corner while tracking Alexander Ovechkin, and he was immediately hobbled. He did return for two brief shifts in the third period before calling it a night. The fact he was able to return at all is a good sign -- hopefully it's more of a contusion on the knee rather than any structural or muscular damage. But that's just guessing going based on how it all looked. He's been so good this season after dealing with such bad injury luck, he really doesn't need another long-term issue.
- In his first game back from a concussion, Michael Grabner took a Mike Green elbow to the face as he was shooting, bloodying Grabner's nose and ultimately ending his night in the first period. A few minutes later, Green too played his last shift of the night, because karma.
- Persson's first NHL goal came on a deceptive backhand shot that handcuffed Braden Holtby. Holtby got enough of it to make it look from some angles like he might have it covered, but it rolled through and into the net, prompting a brief scare that his milestone would fall victim to the "intent to blow" hallucinagenic school.
- Kind of loved Travis Hamonic immediately fetching Persson's 1st goal puck, then crosschecking the Capital who swept it away.
Frans Nielsen's 24th goal made it 3-1 following some really nice power play movement by the replacements. Ryan Strome and Josh Bailey rotated from the point, to the right wing half wall, to the left side, with Matt Donovan playing the top of the umbrella role and alternating fake shots from the point with distribution to either side. Nielsen finally converted a one-timer after Donovan set up Bailey in the high slot and Bailey moved it to Nielsen in the right wing circle.
- The Islanders gave up three ridiculous goals that required a zoom lens or HD TV to track...
- ...Evgeny Kuznetzov's goal that tied it at 1-1 came on an inadvertent goal-line tic-tac-toe, with his sharp pass for Marcus Johansson too hot to convert, but it bounced right back to Kuznetzov, who put it behind Nabokov from the sharpest of angles.
- ...Joel Ward scored the other crazy one, tying it at 3-3 after the puck bounced off multiple players and landed in front for Thomas Hickey, who instinctively chopped it out of the way...but right to Ward's stick in the slot.
- ...Finally, Nicklas Backstrom scored into an empty net after Evgeni Nabokov slid way over and flopped to block an Alex Ovechkin one-timer opportunity on the left wing side. Nabokov's slide made Ovechkin double-clutch, which sent his shot wide of the net...but directly off the injured de Haan's chest and out to Backstrom, who had approximately 24 square feet to shoot at.
- Ovechkin did not score his 50th -- and for once didn't beat the Isles in overtime. So there's that.
Overtime was mostly uneventful. Which is too bad, since these two teams have pretty much nothing to play for. But the Capitals, who still have mathematical playoff hopes and can't win the regulation wins tiebreaker anyway, just needed points. They got 'em.