Without the services of their captain and leading scorer, as well as five of their top six defenseman, the Islanders went into Washington and looked over-matched in an anemic preseason finale that the Capitals won easily, 6-2.
At least everyone left healthy. John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Calvin deHaan and Travis Hamonic didn't play at all. Defenseman Thomas Hickey was injured in last Monday's game against the Caps and is out about a month.
Even for a game that doesn't matter beyond today, the first period wasn't one the Islanders would want to remember. The Caps scored three goals before the period's halfway point while the Islanders looked disjointed and a step slow. Not much changed during the rest of the game, with the Caps using their power play keep themselves on cruise control for the duration.
A turnover by Marek Zidlicky at the Capitals blue line started the avalanche. T.J. Oshie was the recipient of a sweet pass from Evgeni Kuznetsov, who drew both Brian Strait and Zidlicky towards him. Strait left Oshie open, and the new Cap broke towards the net and deposited the puck past Thomas Greiss.
While that goal was still being processed, Jay Beagle skated backwards, pulling the puck beyond Zidlicky and Kyle Okposo and zipped a shot into the top corner for Washington's second goal.
The next time down the ice, Kutznetsov created another goal coming off the bench by launching a shot towards Greiss that later was determined to have bounced off Jason Chimera and in.
Doug Weight, manning the bench with Jack Capuano elsewhere, called a timeout for New York. Eventually, the Islanders seemed to catch up to the Caps (a strong shift by the Anders Lee-Ryan Strome-Mathew Barzal line was the team's best of the period), but couldn't get on the board, even with the benefit of a late power play.
They got one back almost halfway into the second, when Josh Bailey redirected a Kevin Czuczman shot past Braden Holtby.
But the Caps reasserted themselves with a pair of power play goals: one by John Carlsson from the slot (and again over Greiss' shoulder) and one by Alex Ovechkin from his office at the top of the left circle. Kuznetsov assisted on both for his third and fourth points of the game.
Stephon Williams relieved Greiss to start the third and was immediately introduced to one of the NHL's grandest traditions as Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game from the same exact spot he scored his first goal (and the spot from which he scores basically half of all of his goals).
With four-and-a-half minutes to go in garbage time of the garbage season, Okposo scored on a nice give-and-go with Frans Nielsen to make the final score 6-2.
- The broken sticks are back. Scott Mayfield, Steve Bernier and Ryan Pulock all fell victim in the first period. Are Adamantium sticks outlawed under the CBA?
- Okposo had a lively game, as did Barzal and Czuczman.
- Goalies: I don't know if the Capitals' assault on the top corners of the net says more about the abilities of Greiss and Williams or about Washington's laser-sighted snipers. For what it's worth, in his one period of play, Williams looked scrambly but okay.
- The game was broadcast nationally via CSN Washington. Play-by-play man Joe Beninati is always welcome, but I've never warmed up to the voice of his longtime partner, Craig Laughlin, who reminds me of former Mets announcer Fran Healy. Both guys have voices that sound like old, rusty industrial machines in desperate need of oil or decommissioning, and yet somehow forged 20-year careers in talking.
- As mentioned a few times during the broadcast, the Islanders are spending the next three days at Annapolis, MD, doing team-building exercises before the start of the season. It's also a chance for Capuano to catch a few face-to-face minutes with his son Anthony, who is attending the US Naval Academy.
- The final word belongs to Anti-fireman Arthur Staple:
For those #Isles fans stressing out, Tavares and top 5 D are out tonight. Plus best two PK forwards. Kids/depth guys out of their element.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) October 4, 2015
- The real season starts Friday. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.