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Islanders 1, Capitals 0: You can breathe now

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A scoreless game well into the third period gave us a Tuesday night nail biter all the way until the end.

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
King. Of. Brock.
Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Whew, that felt like a playoff game. While the game wasn’t as close as the score might make it seem (the Isles hit multiple posts and were overall dominant) neither team wanted to give an inch in the battle for first in the division.

Both goalies were phenomenal, and it took over 50 minutes before Brock Nelson could break the deadlock. Varlamov had to come up huge for the Islanders on a few occasions, making sure the strong effort by the team would be rewarded in a game where goals were much harder to find than the 8-4 scoreline last time these two teams met.

[NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period

Noah Dobson hit the post early on a shot that had Vitek Vanecek beat, and Vanecek made a good save on Cal Clutterbuck’s follow up shot.

Tom Wilson sent the Isles to the PP after tripping Jordan Eberle, and on that PP Eberle hit the post.

Oliver Wahlstrom left during the first period for the locker room, but would return for the start of the second.

The Islanders had a fantastic opportunity to score after hemming in the Ovechkin line, keeping them out on a near two minute shift that forced them to ice the puck. They couldn’t do anything on the ensuing offensive zone draw, though, and the Caps narrowly escaped. They were given a lifeline, too, at the end of the period, when basically a phantom penalty was called on Mat Barzal for interference with 16 seconds left.

Second Period

The Islanders killed that penalty, keeping the game scoreless. Adam Pelech would hobble to the bench after an Ovechkin shot hit him in the ankle, and after showing some visible discomfort, he returned to the ice and looked back to normal. Scary moment there though when he wasn’t putting a lot of weight on the ankle.

Anthony Beauvillier went to the box on another weird penalty, for closing his hand over the puck when he gloved it from the air. On the penalty kill, Casey Cizikas lost his stick early, but it ultimately didn’t factor in too much and the Isles were able to kill this one too.

Varlamov had to come up big on a save on Daniel Sprong, and Jordan Eberle hit the post again on a backhand that would have been a very pretty goal.

Third Period

And this is where the game really started to pick up.

Varlamov made a big save on Carl Hagelin after Noah Dobson ran out of options to cleanly exit the zone with the puck. On the other end, Mat Barzal set up Matt Martin, who shot high on Vanecek. Back to the other end, Varlamov stopped a Jakub Vrana tip.

Oliver Wahlstrom drew a penalty after dekeing through a couple of Capitals before getting slashed. Vanecek made a big save on Barzal on the power play, but the Caps ultimately killed it.

Scott Mayfield nearly gave away a goal after struggling with the puck and having it pop out to Conor Sheary, but Varlamov made the save.

After that, Brock Nelson finally, mercifully, broke the deadlock in the Islanders’ favor. Beauvillier got the puck into the zone and dumped it to the boards. That eventually found its way to Ryan Pulock, who took a shot that Bailey got a piece of, and then Nelson found the puck and scored it five hole past Vanecek.

Nelson nearly got a second afterwards, stealing the puck from the Caps and getting a decent shot off, but Vanecek made the save on that one.

Barzal was robbed by Vanecek after a good pass from Leo Komarov (!) and the Caps hit the post to keep it 1-0.

The Capitals pulled their goalie, and the scariest moment came when the puck went out of the zone off the glass, but the refs were huddled to potentially call a penalty on that play despite the deflection with 4.6s left. They ultimately didn’t, and the Isles were able to kill off the rest of the clock, earning the win and a 29 save shutout for Varlamov.

Quick Thoughts

  • The Isles improve to 16-1-2 at the Coliseum, the 1 regulation loss being a league best.
  • Kieffer Bellows drew back into the lineup tonight, and made some noticeably good plays defensively. Again, I really don’t know why Trotz doesn’t like having him in the lineup regularly!
  • Wahlstrom hasn’t put any points on the board since a goal against Boston on March 25, but he’s played well and could probably use a bump in his ice time. That move against the Caps defense was Barzal-esque, and that’s the kind of talent this team needs more of.
  • Speaking of adding talent, it’s time for this team to make some moves. Top line Leo Komarov has survived in a pinch, but Barzal and Eberle need a real top line LW to play with.

Up Next

Next, the home stand continues as the Islanders have their penultimate meeting with the Flyers on Thursday, April 8. Let’s get another 2 points!