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Islanders 3, Capitals 0 (EN): Filppula goals, Lehner shutout clinch home ice and Jennings Trophy

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Two goals from Valtteri Filppula, a shutout from Robin Lehner, and a Matt Martin empty net goal earn the New York Islanders home ice in the playoffs for the first time since 1988.

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
Wear my number so my powers may flow through you.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 regular season is over, and it’s been one wild ride. Tonight, the New York Islanders clinched a few things: home ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs, which will be hosted at Nassau Coliseum; the William Jennings Trophy for both Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss; fifth place overall in the entire National Hockey League. None of us expected anywhere close to this at the start of the season, not even the most optimistic of us. As Brendan Burke said when the Islanders clinched a playoff berth against the Buffalo Sabres, “It’s a team that wasn’t given a chance at the start of the season, they’ll have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup!”

Or, take it from Robin Lehner who will be sure to want the Coli rocking:

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period

It was a shaky start early, especially with Scott Mayfield heading to the locker room after blocking a Dmitry Orlov shot, but he returned later and played the rest of the game. The Capitals had a 3 on 1 opportunity that ended with Andre Burakovsky hitting the crossbar.

Tom Kuhnhackl and Brock Nelson had some good looks at goal, but Caps backup Pheonix Copley made the saves.

Robin Lehner had to come up big as well, stopping Brett Connolly from giving the Capitals a lead.

Second Period

Welcome back, Valtteri Filppula! Devon Toews lifted a fantastic pass from the defensive zone up the ice that perfectly landed for Filppula, who broke in alone on Copley and scored to give the Islanders the lead.

Tom Wilson hit the post, Scott Mayfield drew a penalty and the power play continued its futility. Devon Toews took his second penalty of his NHL career, sent off for holding on a dubious call. Lehner came up big, making two good saves to ensure the Isles remained in the lead.

Third Period

Once again, a Wilson shot went off the post, the Capitals’ third of the game. Ryan Pulock was sent to the box for hooking, but the Islanders efficiently killed the penalty.

Valtteri Filppula then made a nice play to get the puck to Adam Pelech, and snuck past, well, every Capital on the ice to deflect a Pelech pass into the net, giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead.

The Capitals pulled Copley with just over 3 minutes left, and Matt Martin scored on the empty net, giving the Isles a 3-0 victory over the Caps and clinching home ice.

Quick Thoughts

  • I’m 23 years old, and the Islanders have never had home ice for the playoffs for as long as I’ve been alive. That changes this year.
  • Biggest surprises of the season? The goaltending and defense has to be number 1, since no one could have anticipated that dramatic a change. Valtteri Filppula has to be the other, with 16 goals this season and some smart plays that have made him a competent 3C on a team desperate for center depth.
  • If Barry Trotz doesn’t win the Jack Adams, I don’t understand anything.

Up Next

Next, the New York Islanders will return to the Nassau Coliseum on a to be determined date to face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bring the energy everybody, it’s on!!!