The New York Islanders are well and truly done now.
They needed to win tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals, whom they’re chasing, in regulation. But instead, the Capitals tied it in the third period and took the lead, forcing the Isles to play catch-up. Luckily, they did, but they still lost the skills competition.
Barry Trotz only made one change to his lineup of skaters following Sunday’s win: Matt Martin re-entered the lineup, with Ross Johnston taking another seat. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles, while Vitek Vanecek did the same for the Capitals. The lines remained the same.
I had to listen to the first period on the radio, so I wasn’t able to see what happened all throughout. But I do know that Anthony Mantha gave Washington the first lead of the game, getting his stick on a try from Evgeny Kuznetsov that trickled through Varlamov.
Also, the Islanders out-Corsi’d the Caps, but the Caps out-Isled the Isles, leading the way in scoring chances and high-danger chances.
The Islanders managed to get the game tied in the second period. Zdeno Chara had a wide-open lane to shoot and did so, but the shot was blocked. However, it came right to Nelson, and Vanecek couldn’t get over to stop it. The Capitals challenged for goaltender interference, as Anders Lee’s stick made a little contact with Vanecek, but it was unsuccessful. The goal stood, and the Isles got a power play.
An Islanders giveaway on the Caps’ blueline led to Ovechkin finding Connor McMichael cheating up ice. But Varlamov robbed his breakaway chance. Later, Nelson nearly had his second of the period to give the Isles their first lead of the night. He beat Vanecek short side, but the puck hit both posts and rode the goal line in between knocks.
Just after that, coming out of a commercial break, the Caps thought that they had regained the lead on a fluky goal that initially didn’t look like it went in. However, they were clearly offsides, so the Islanders challenged successfully and knocked the goal off the board.
The called-back goal energized the Islanders, with Scott Mayfield starting a breakout that got to J-G Pageau, who Kyle Palmieri just in front of the crease off the rush; Vanecek made an excellent save on that.
But he couldn’t stop a goal for Palmieri, one that was created almost entirely by Josh Bailey. Mayfield again led the breakout, and Bailey took a pass from Pageau as they entered on the rush. Then, Bailey danced around John Carlson, leaving him dumbfounded and Bailey wide open. Bailey saw Vanecek scrambling and Palmieri with plenty of space, so he hit Palmieri.
"WOW. WOW." - Anson Carter— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) March 16, 2022
Palms stays red hot and Bails with the ELITE play. pic.twitter.com/eNwE5hIUzd
Leading into the first commercial break, Ovechkin and Matt Martin each took minor penalties—Martin for holding, Ovechkin for unsportsmanlike—and the on-ice manpower went to four-on-four. The Caps, you would say, probably had the better of play on it, but nobody threatened much.
Washington undeniably controlled the game at five-on-five, and they were rewarded. Lee was caught as one defenseman back and was caught flat-footed, as well. Ryan Pulock tried to defend the two-on-one, but Dmitry Orlov fed across to Axel Jonsson-Fjallby for the 24-year-old Swede’s first NHL goal, tying the game up at 2-2.
The Capitals continued to buzz after the goal, but then the Islanders woke up shortly after Ovechkin clipped and injured Anthony Beauvillier. When the new Barzal line stepped onto the ice, they entered on a rush, and Wahlstrom took Barzal’s pass and put it off the short-side post.
Unfortunately, coming out of the final commercial break, Kuznetsov won an offensive zone face-off right to Ovechkin, who quickly snapped the puck over Varlamov’s shoulder. With the goal, the Capitals took a lead and firmly gripped the momentum, while Ovechkin moved into no. 3 all-time in goals scored, passing Jaromir Jagr and hitting no. 767.
Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801) and now Alex Ovechkin (767). pic.twitter.com/lSXPSxw8AW— NHL (@NHL) March 16, 2022
But wait! Varlamov went to the bench for the extra attacker, Nelson, with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. Nelson and Dobson played catch along the blue line before Dobson fired from the point. Vanecek stopped that shot, but the rebound came right out to Lee, who put it past Vanecek. The game was tied at 3-3 and went to overtime.
Washington won the opening draw and had control of the puck through the first 45 seconds, but they had only one or two chances, none very dangerous. Dobson took possession behind the net, and the Islanders went to work for 45 seconds; Barzal fed Pelech coming over the blue line, and Pelech got it down to Beauvillier, but Beauvillier whiffed on the initial try, allowing Vanecek to set up for the second chance.
When the Capitals got the puck back, T.J. Oshie fed Justin Schultz cutting to the net, and Schultz knocked it out of the air, but Varlamov made an excellent anticipatory save. Bailey and Nelson attempted to combine for a little give-and-go, but Nelson misfired and sent the Caps on a two-on-one. Oshie and Mantha couldn’t connect, though, because Bailey broke it up. Kuznetsov found some room alone for a mini-breakaway but was stopped, and then he button-hooked around and did it again. Then, Ovechkin had another chance, but Varlamov gloved that, too. The extra frame ended with Barzal and Parise roaming around in the offensive zone.
- Kuznetsov went first and dipsy-doodled, but Varlamov snagged the backhand. Beauvillier was next and went in slow, but he couldn’t sneak his forehand try through Vanecek’s five-hole.
- Nicklas Backstrom came in a little quickly, but he missed the net. Wahlstrom went up for the Islanders and put it off Vanecek’s arm.
- Oshie, the shootout legend, got Varlamov out of position with a beautiful move and scored. But Palmieri answered with a laser between the pad and blocker.
- In round 4, Daniel Sprong sped in but couldn’t get Varlamov out of position. Barzal had a chance to win it, but he missed the net.
- Ovechkin went fifth for Washington, but Varlamov closed the five-hole. Bailey had a chance to win it, too, and he was also denied.
- Carlson went next for the Caps and missed wide. Trotz answered with a defenseman in Dobson, but Vanecek made the save.
- Trevor van Riemsdyk, another defenseman, made his first shootout attempt go way wide. Nelson finally got a chance, but he also missed the net!
- Mantha scored for Washington in Round 8, and Lee was unable to answer, so Washington got the extra point.
Notes and Thoughts
- Congratulations to Alex Ovechkin, who is now no. 3 all-time in goals. It was a huge goal. It was also his only chance to do it at home in front of his fans, so you knew it was going to happen tonight. He hit 767 goals in 480 fewer games than Jagr needed to hit 766.
- Nelson, Palmieri, Lee, Bailey, and Beauvillier continue to remain red hot. Each one extended a point streak tonight. I hope that they can do it next season, too!
- The Islanders needed to win this in regulation, so that they lost in a shootout isn’t a huge deal: It just reaffirms what we knew, that they weren’t making the playoffs this season.
- Varlamov played well tonight, and the Islanders finally solved Vanecek.
- Some sad news to report, as we learned after the game: Jean Potvin, former Islander Cup-winner and brother of legendary Islander Denis Potvin, passed away at the age of 72. Our condolences to the Potvin family and all their friends.
The New York Islanders are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Potvin. https://t.co/pxrDgmgxJB— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 16, 2022
The Islanders return to their beds but still play a road game: That’s right, they’re visiting the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It’s a 7:00 p.m. start.