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Islanders 4, Capitals 2: Game one... to the Island

A four goal comeback gives the Isles the first win of their first round matchup.

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders - Game One
The boys are buzzin’.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A penalty filled first period and a few penalties at inconvenient times in the second had the Islanders in a 2-0 hole up until the end of the second, when Jordan Eberle got the Islanders within one. A much more disciplined third period sparked three straight goals, including a short handed tally by Josh Bailey. The Islanders dominated play at even strength, setting the tone for what should be a good, physical series.

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First Period

Anders Lee started off the hockey game with a bang, hitting Nicklas Backstrom late and getting called for interference. John Carlson immediately looked to fight with Lee, and both were called for roughing. The hit was definitely late but contact was to the chest, and I think most would agree it certainly wasn’t a predatory hit, unlike the way Caps coach Todd Reirden, John Carlson, and TJ Oshie portrayed it. Backstrom didn’t return for the game and is being evaluated tonight.

Shortly after that, Dmitry Orlov hit Cal Clutterbuck, and Casey Cizikas and Tom Wilson got into it, both also called for roughing. The Islanders killed the Lee interference penalty.

Matt Martin then took a roughing penalty, and that was killed with help from a good Semyon Varlamov save. Scott Mayfield was called for tripping, and about a minute into that penalty, Tom Wilson was whistled for interference on Adam Pelech as he tried to clear the puck. The Caps killed the Islanders’ power play.

Towards the end of the period, it was clear the Capitals felt Lee didn’t answer enough for his hit despite the penalty and scrapping with Carlson, and so Wilson dropped the gloves and pretty clearly outmatched Lee in the fight. Both went to the locker rooms to serve their five minutes.

Second Period

After surviving the penalty filled first without giving up a goal, it was clear the Isles needed to stay out of the box. That.. did not happen.

Casey Cizikas nearly gave the Islanders the lead, but couldn’t lift the puck up over Holtby with an open net. Matt Martin then took an interference penalty in the offensive zone, which was called so late and so unclearly that the Islanders actually pulled the goalie briefly believing that it was their power play coming up and had the puck in their possession for a while before the call was made against Martin.

Veteran Presence Uncle Leo Komarov failed to clear the puck twice on the penalty kill, and TJ Oshie opened the scoring for the Caps.

The Islanders had a PP opportunity a few minutes later when Garnet Hathaway was called for interference, but they couldn’t score and Jordan Eberle was called for hooking, and Oshie scored again on the Caps’ power play.

In the back and forth penalty contest in the second, Richard Panik went to the box for boarding, but again the Islanders couldn’t score on the man advantage. A few minutes later, they’d be sloppy on a line change, and would give the Capitals another power play for the too many men bench minor.

Fortunately, the Islanders killed this penalty, and JG Pageau nearly scored short handed, though on replay the opportunity was much more difficult than it looked live. Near the end of the period, Eberle redeemed himself for the hooking call, and gave the Islanders life with a long range shot that went past Braden Holtby.

At the end of the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov held Mat Barzal to stop him from getting to a loose puck in the slot, but no call was made.

Third Period

Under a minute into the third, Anders Lee broke his goal slump and scored his first even strength playoff goal. It was a classic Lee goal, picking up a loose puck in the crease from a Ryan Pulock slapshot.

Getting the captain going will be key for the Isles’ offense in this series, and having him engaged in the game in a way he wasn’t during the Panthers series helped make the Barzal line look threatening all game.

Despite the clear need to stay out of the box, Komarov took a high sticking penalty. The only good thing about that was that it meant that we wouldn’t get the Leo Komarov Penalty Killing Experience, and instead meant Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey could be out on the PK. That move paid off, as Brock Nelson got the puck into Caps zone off of Holtby, who made an ill-advised pass to Alex Ovechkin that Nelson was able to pick up and get to Bailey, who made no mistake on his shot.

Casey Cizikas had a short handed chance too, but couldn’t get the puck through Holtby’s five hole.

Just five minutes later, Josh Bailey would come up huge for the Islanders again, instead as the playmaker. A rush from Mat Barzal through the neutral zone and into the Caps zone led to a pass to Bailey, who took a shot and picked up his own rebound, passing it off to Anthony Beauvillier who was waiting for the tap in.

The Caps pulled Holtby with just under three minutes left, and JG Pageau nearly finished off the game when he had a partial breakaway to the empty net, but he was hooked with no call. The hopes for a Capitals comeback ended when Wilson took a holding penalty with 42 seconds left, and the Islanders came away with a Game 1 win.

Quick Thoughts

  • Stay out of the box. Please. Do not take penalties. I’m begging.
  • I don’t want Leo Komarov anywhere near a gameday roster for the rest of the playoffs and also the rest of his contract. I respect what he brings to the room and that the guys all seem to like him, but he is a complete liability on the ice. All but five Islanders were at 50% or above in CF% at 5v5, and those five were the fourth line plus Pageau and Komarov. Considering how good Pageau was during the Panthers series, making him carry around Komarov is a crime. Komarov failing to clear the puck was also the reason for the Caps’ first goal, and the penalty kill looked entirely different when he wasn’t on the ice. I’d much rather have Ross Johnston who will at least be physically engaged in the game, or Michael Dal Colle and Tom Kuhnhackl, who both provide a forechecking presence.
  • Having the top six going in this game is a good sign for the rest of the series if they can all stay hot. Anthony Beauvillier has been a breakout star during these playoffs.

Up Next

Next, we’ll see you back here Friday at (hopefully) 8pm, barring any marathon OT games.