The New York Islanders hosted the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s first night of operation since the All-Star break. It was also the final game of a six-game set at Barclays Center, the Isles’ current home. After tonight, they will only have 12 home games left, if my memory serves me right.
Thomas Hickey, one of the more durable Islanders throughout his tenure, missed another game, as did Travis Hamonic and Cal Clutterbuck. The two kiddies from Bridgeport (they’re actually both older than me but shh) played together again, and Shane Prince returned to the lineup.
This game featured a match-up of two German starting goalies in Capitals backup Phillip Grubauer and newly-extended Isles goalie Thomas Greiss. The countrymen would prove to be great foes for each other, and their cuisine would contribute greatly to this recap.
First Period: Limburger cheese
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on a 2-on-1 that Greiss probably should have had but was also hung out to dry on. Brooks Orpik caught the Islanders on a line change and fed Justin Williams up the side boards. He found Kuznetsov cutting into the Islanders zone with only Scott Mayfield back, Adam Pelech just getting over the boards. Greiss came out to play it but unfortunately couldn’t grab it.
Lars Eller tripped up John Tavares and gave the Islanders a power play. Sadly, but only one shot was registered, but they did have some good zone time.
At the end of the period, Jason Chimera, playing against his former team, had a breakaway chance that he just missed wide on.
Second Period: Sauerbrauten
In the first minute the Isles would go right back on the power play, after Matt Niskanen interfered with Shane Prince. They created quite the buzz throughout the man advantage before Andrew Ladd ripped a shot that may or may not have gone into the top corner of the net. It didn’t matter because Alan Quine was there to clean up the trash. Quine, in particular, had a couple chances throughout the period.
Quine put Orpik on his behind and generated a scoring chance in tight.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) February 1, 2017
Anthony Beauvillier went after a shot that had deflected off of him and took a penalty to give the frightening Capitals power play their first chance of the night, but they only managed a shot.
A play that began with Nicklas Backstrom making Dennis Seidenberg look silly gave Alex Ovechkin not one, but two attempts down low. He missed the first one and Greiss was able to get over for the second one.
Third Period: Bratwurst and sauerkraut
A period that began back-and-forth was taken control of by the Isles when Ryan Strome got on the board - Mayfield’s blast was deflected behind the net and after a Washington defender scooped up the puck, Beauvillier picked him off behind the goal line and sent a gorgeous no-look pass to Brock Nelson in the face-off circle. Nelson deked around another Capital and dished through the middle to Strome for the one-timer.
Predictably, the Capitals pressed some. They were able to get one back with their net empty when Ovechkin sent one flying past the shoulder of Greiss, but luckily it was after Johnny Boychuk had already put the puck into the empty net.
The team has been on fire of late, and has not yet lost in regulation in the Doug Weight era. They played very well against an excellent team in the Capitals, who were also finishing up the best January of their history.
It seems they’ve flipped some sort of switch. This win against the best team (standings-wise) in the league was a huge test, especially coming off the break. It should be an exciting last few months of the season, remarkably.
The Islanders will head out to Frans Nielsen’s new stomping grounds to take on the Red Wings on Friday night. The game is at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on MSG+, as well as NHL Network for those in the U.S. and not in the New York or Detroit markets.